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Israel building new overground fence around Gaza Strip

Israel’s underwater barrier designed to further blockade the besieged Gaza Strip
Israel’s underwater barrier designed to further blockade the besieged Gaza Strip, seen during construction in 2018 at Zikim beach, approximately three kilometres from Gaza’s northern frontier

The Israeli Defence Ministry on Sunday announced it has begun building the overground part of barrier around the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The Defence Ministry, in a statement said, the construction started on Thursday.

"The barrier will be 65 kilometers long and will be six-meter-high, along the border from Kerem Shalom in the south and will be connected to the new sea barrier Israel is building," it added.

Earlier this year, Israel had announced that the naval barrier designed to further blockade the besieged Gaza Strip is nearing completion, seven months after construction began.

According to the ministry, the overground barrier is part of Israel's underground smart fence to detect tunnels.

"The border is uniquely and especially suited to threats from the Gaza Strip and will give a comprehensive solution to prevent entry into Israel," it said.

No Formal Borders

This new initiative will likely be seen as a further attempt by Israel to tighten its siege of the Gaza Strip, which has been ongoing since 2007. Israel has closed all pedestrian and commercial crossings into and out of the enclave and has constructed a "security fence" along the Green (1949 Armistice) Line which serves as a border. Alone of all UN member states, Israel has never formally declared where its borders actually are. A no-go area of approximately 300 metres is also imposed on the Gaza side of the fence, restricting the access of many families and farmers to their land.

Israel has also imposed a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, which currently limits Gaza's fishermen to a distance of three nautical miles, some 17 less than was original proposed under the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s. Last Summer, two ships belonging to the Freedom Flotilla attempted to break the naval blockade, but were intercepted by Israeli naval forces in international waters. Crew members of Al-Awda, the first ship to be intercepted, have accused Israeli forces of violence and other governments have said that Israel's actions broke international law.

The impact of the siege has been severe. Gaza's industrial and commercial sectors have been damaged, with Israel's ban on imports of fuel and gas leading to shortages and high unemployment.

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