Finance Ministry Foils Gaza Fence Funding

YERUSHALAYIM -
A view of the fence in Shlomit, near the Israel-Gaza border. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
A view of the fence in Shlomit, near the Israel-Gaza border. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Finance Ministry has been blocking funding for a major upgrading of the Gaza border fence in its ongoing budget battles with the Defense Ministry, an IDF source told reporters on Thursday.

At issue is an NIS 500 million plan for security improvements at the border, which would include an extension of the fence and installation of sophisticated tracking and surveillance equipment to detect infiltration, Hamas tunnels in particular.

“This plan would prevent a situation whereby an Israeli who wishes to [can] enter the Gaza Strip, as happened with Avera Mengistu,” an IDF source stated. “Because of the threats that we are dealing with today, I hope that a solution will be found. We are waiting for it, and we are preoccupied with it. Today it’s stuck because of the budget.”

In the meantime, however, the IDF is in the process of installing a radar system aimed at extending the warning time for Israelis to take cover when a mortar shell is fired from the Gaza Strip, a senior Southern Command official told Ynet on Thursday.

Until now, residents of communities near the border fence had 3-5 seconds to run for cover. The new system will give them 15 seconds. The official cautioned that the system is still in experimental stages and has yet to prove itself under real-life conditions.

Also, Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold said Wednesday night that Israel anticipates a “major escalation” of Iranian-backed terror attacks on its borders once the sanctions are removed, making some $150 billion available to Tehran.

“We would expect a major escalation of the insurgent and terror threat against the state of Israel, along most of our border[s]. And that’s a direct result of removing sanctions and having this money that results from [it] go to Iran, first for Iran’s own military buildup and secondly for Iranian surrogates, which surround the state of Israel,” he said during a conference call hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.