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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Gaza strip sea fence: Israel environmental warning quickly swept


By Ary Gotlib - January 24, 2019
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza Blockade]

Israeli engineers are about to complete the construction of a sea barrier at the edge of the Mediterranean sea on the territory of Gaza, reported Middle East Eye.

 
The fence has raised criticisms, especially about potential consequences on the nature.
 
By altering natural sand deposits carried by the sea, Israel's own environment ministry warned that the barrier could damage Israel's beaches.
 
Even so, security imperatives seem to take precedence, allegedly, over all other considerations.
 
“The sea barrier will reduce the area of one of the prettiest beaches in Israel,” wrote Haaretz last August, who also published some images of the barrier.
 
Changes proposed by the ministry of environment were rejected.
 
According to the Israel Ministry of Environment, the barrier will reduce the width of the beach by up to 50 meters for one kilometer.
 
Any sand accumulating to the south of the structure is then lacking in adjacent beaches to the north of that structure.
 
Thus, according to the Ministry for Environmental Protection, Gaza’s northern beach, which lies to the south of the barrier, will expand by up to 40 meters along a one kilometer strip.
 
This construction is motivated by what occurred during the war of Gaza in 2014, when a team of Hamas commandos entered Israel by the sea.
 
Israeli authorities claimed that the fence would prevent Hamas fighters from infiltrating it again, reported The Times of Israel.
 
The barrier, executed by the Defense Ministry along the beach of Zikim - the security weakness zone according to Israel - on Gaza’s northernmost border, will stretch 200 meters in length and 50 meters in width.
 
The work started in May 2018.
 
It adds to the existing security fences and naval presence around the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
 
Following the Oslo peace accords signed in 1994, the Gaza Strip's sea should extend 20 nautical miles from the coast, but Israel has a heavy naval presence restricting any traffic in or out of the enclave.
 
Since then, Gaza’s fishermen can only travel to fish on a maximal distance of nine nautical miles, considerably less than the amount designated in the Oslo agreements pointed out Middle East Eye.
 
According to The Times of Israel, the barrier is composed by an underwater wall of boulders which stretches 200 meters.
 
In the boulder wall is a concrete wall coated with seismic detectors and other technological tools of which the exact function is not revealed.
 
Last May Avidgor Lieberman, former Minister of Defense (from 2016 to 2018), described the fence on Twitter as unique in it's genre.
 
“[It] will keep protecting Israel's citizens with power and sophistication,” Lieberman stated.
 
Since some doubts has been raised, the Ministry of Defense claims that the implications are minimal and that any changes in the contours of the shoreline will be monitored.
 
The Defense Ministry attempt to stifle controversy by predicting that “the impact will be minor and these changes would have happened even without the barrier, as part of a natural process.”

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