International

Future State of Palestine? Surrounded By Walls at The Four Winds

A new reality is taking shape along the Gaza-Israel border. Quietly, Israel has begun building a new barrier against cross-border tunnels. The barrier combines an underground wall, an above-ground fence and a complex system of sensors and monitoring devices. The work began in a few short stretches near northern Gaza and is supposed to kick into high gear in the coming months.

Hamas is watching closely. Inside Gaza, about 300 meters (328 yards) from the border, the organization has significantly increased its number of lookout posts. Almost always, when cranes and drills appear on the Israeli side, lookout posts spring up on the Palestinian side.

This isn’t necessarily bad from Israel’s standpoint. Hamas’ “border patrol” takes pains to prevent infiltrators from crossing into Israel. It arrests most of them and in one recent case even opened fire on a Palestinian who tried to enter Israel. Senior Israeli officers say Hamas is also striving to prevent rocket fire. The Hamas outposts also help the army retaliate immediately if a rocket or gun is nevertheless fired at Israel. That is, the outposts become targets that Israel attacks on the grounds that Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in the territory it controls.

Evidently, Hamas also understands the rules of the game. Otherwise it’s hard to explain why almost nobody has been hurt in these Israeli punitive strikes.

It’s clear that a massive engineering project has been launched along the Gaza border. The barrier will only be about 65 kilometers (40 miles) long, roughly a quarter the length of the fence along the Israeli-Egyptian border, but the work on the Gaza border is incomparably more complicated.

When historians and geographers study Israel’s borders over the last two decades, they’ll discover that a little-known figure influenced the topography more than all the leaders and generals put together. That man is Brigadier General Eran Ophir, head of the army’s fence-building administration. Following the separation barrier in the West Bank, the fence along the Egyptian border and the one in the Golan Heights, Ophir is now focusing on the barrier along the Gaza frontier. (PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity))

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