Israel started construction of an “above-ground barrier” that will completely surround the Gaza Strip in a bid to keep terrorists from infiltrating the Jewish state’s territory, officials said Sunday.
Israel’s Defense Ministry said in a statement the galvanized steel barrier will be 20 feet high when completed and complements a subterranean wall aimed at thwarting Hamas tunnels dug beneath the border.
“The barrier will prevent terrorists from Gaza from penetrating into our territory on the ground,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter. “If the quiet is not maintained in Gaza, we will not hesitate to act.”
The new barrier will be built along the route of the underground system, running for about 40 miles. The entire project is expected to cost about $833 million and be completed by the end of 2019, according to the Times of Israel.
It will also connect to the barrier system constructed out into the Mediterranean Sea aimed at halting infiltration from the sea.
The fence is similar to the one built along the border with Egypt, which cut the number of illegal African migrants passing into Israel from 14,669 in 2010 to 14 in 2016, the Jerusalem Post reported. After the height of the fence was raised from 16 feet to 26 feet there have been no reported infiltrations, the Post reported.
The fence’s construction comes after months of violent mass protests along the border by Palestinians in Gaza.
Rockets are routinely fired from Gaza toward southern Israel, and Palestinians have also turned to kites and balloons outfitted with incendiary devices as the latest weapon of terror.
Fox News’ Greg Norman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.