The construction of the fence, estimated to cost NIS 1.4 billion (roughly $400 million) will start in about three months and is expected to take about two years.
As the venture is characterized as a "national emergency project," every completed section of the fence would be handed over to the IDF immediately.
'Smart' fence to be built on border. (Photo: Meir Partoush)
Even before IDF troops left the Gaza Strip in the framework of the disengagement plan, senior military officials estimated that the 236-kilomter (roughly 150 miles) Israel-Egypt border will became a major vulnerability in terms of terror threats. The main concern is that terrorists will make their way from Gaza to Egypt and from there to Israel, via the breached border. At the time, the border already featured prolific criminal activity, including the smuggling of drugs and prostitutes.
Counting on natural obstaclesThe terror attack in Eilat in January 2007 saw the pessimistic estimates materialize. Southern Command officials boosted the IDF's deployment in the south, and at the same time the defense establishment started working on the "Hourglass" plan that outlined the border fence. This obstacle, which was never built, was supposed to provide a significant response to terror threats.
According to the plan, two fences will be built at two sections of the border. Other border sections feature natural obstacles that make it difficult for infiltrators to reach Israel, security officials say. The new fence will also be based on lessons drawn from previous fences built by Israel, on the northern border and in the West Bank, the defense establishment says.
As the fence needs to be built in remote areas in the south of the country, the army needs to identify contractors that would be able to work under difficult conditions in areas far from water and electricity sources. Defense officials also say that they are carefully studying the topography of the area, and that the new fence will have a minimal effect on nature reserves in the region.