Ramallah – Israel threatened to launch a new war on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Thursday should the group attempt blocking the construction of tunnel-proof border wall.
Israel had announced that it spotted hidden tunnels running under civilian homes in Gaza, threatening to shell these houses.
Major General Eyal Zamir said Israel will “accelerate the construction of the barrier,” deemed necessary after Palestinian fighters burrowed into the country’s territory during the 2014 Gaza war.
Zamir, who is head of Israel’s Southern Command, said he hopes that construction will be complete in two years.
But he also explained that the wall could potentially lead to a “dangerous escalation” in relations with Hamas despite being built entirely within Israeli territory.
For months, Israel has been actively perusing the construction of a wall that runs tens of meters deep, consisting of concrete slabs and sensors. The wall is expected to stretch over 64 kilometers. The cost of the wall is $1.1 billion and is due to be completed within two years.
The Israeli army revealed on Thursday that aerial photographs had been taken and that the coordinates of two buildings in Gaza had been used by Hamas to hide a tunnel network. One of them belonged to a Hamas-linked family.
Construction Minister Yoav Galant, also a former military commander, said the wall will be built in Israeli territory parallel to the border fence sealing off the Palestinian enclave run by Hamas.
Attack tunnels, 32 of which Israel has claimed it destroyed, were a key weapon for Hamas during the 2014 Gaza war.
Hamas also built a vast network of tunnels under Gaza’s border with Egypt to smuggle goods and allegedly weapons.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the Gaza Strip since the group wrested control of the territory from the rival Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.
The war killed 2,251 Palestinians and left 100,000 homeless, according to the United Nations.