Israel’s military has approved a project to erect a sea barrier along the border with Egypt.
The Israel Navy has been assigned to plan the construction of a barrier that would prevent insurgents in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula from reaching Israel. They said the Project Hourglass would be launched by 2014 in the Gulf of Aqaba in cooperation with Egypt.
“The ability of terrorists to reach Israel from Sinai is very easy — even with constant naval patrols,” an official said.
The sea barrier would separate Egypt’s Taba resort from the Israeli city of Eilat. They said the barrier would begin from the floor of the Red Sea and come above the surface.
“We think the project could be finished within a year,” the official said.
The Israel Navy has determined a sea-based threat by the growing Al Qaida-insurgency in Sinai. Officials said the navy warned the military’s General Staff that Palestinian or Al Qaida-aligned fighters could pose as water skiers from Sinai and reach the Eilat coast within minutes.
Another scenario was that Sinai-based insurgents would fire rockets from boats toward the hotels along the Israeli coast. Officials cited the failure of the military’s missile alert system to detect three rockets toward Eilat in early July.
“This area challenges us in terms of security, but the Egyptians, the Jordanians and we have a shared interest in maintaining peace there,” Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said.
The sea barrier would be completed in parallel with the construction of a border fence between Egypt and Israel.
The 200-kilometer border fence project has reached the last stage, sealing 15 kilometers of mostly mountains near Eilat.