Israel is sealing off the Gaza Strip with a triple barrier ahead of its planned pullout from the territory next month. The Palestinians describe the new barrier as an obstacle to peace.
Israel hopes that following the planned pullout from Gaza, its high-tech, three-layered security system will be the most impenetrable barrier in the world. The aim is to keep Palestinian suicide bombers and other attackers out of the country. Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner.
"And we will continue to do whatever it takes in order to protect our citizens from terrorism coming from the Palestinian side," he said.
More than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers have entered Israel from the West Bank during four-and-a-half years of conflict, but infiltrations from Gaza are rare. Until now, Israel had one security fence around Gaza, but the new barrier is far more sophisticated, with hi-tech surveillance and weapons systems. It includes electronic sensors, hundreds of video and night vision cameras, and watchtowers mounted with remote-control machine guns.
Israeli border communities will be protected by seven-meter-high concrete walls to stop Palestinian sniper fire.
Unlike Israel's internationally condemned barrier in the West Bank, the army insists that the Gaza project will not confiscate Palestinian land. But Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told VOA that Israel is turning Gaza into a big prison. And he says that will have disastrous consequences, including more poverty, more militancy, and more violence.
"Well, I think we have a serious problem in Gaza," he explained. "We need to solve the problem of 1.3 million Palestinians living in very, very severe conditions and expect these things to happen."
The new Gaza barrier stretches for 60 kilometers around the seaside territory and will cost about $220 million. It is due to be completed in about a year.