Israel silent on Gaza underground wall tender claims

Jerusalem (AFP) – Israeli officials declined to comment Wednesday on reports that the government issued a tender for the construction of an underground wall around Gaza to block attack tunnels from the Palestinian territory.

The Ynet news website reported Wednesday that the Defence Ministry had issued tenders for the building of an underground structure to prevent tunnels being dug into Israel.

The report said the barrier would have sensors to detect digging and would eventually run the length of the 60-kilometre Gaza border.

It did not say how deep the wall would be, but said the tender had been submitted to 20 Israeli companies for bids.

“The Ministry of Defence is not commenting on the report,” a spokeswoman told AFP.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also declined to comment.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, used underground tunnels crossing the border to carry out surprise attacks in the last war between the two sides in 2014.

Israel has described the tunnels as a strategic threat and Hamas has repeatedly said it is building new ones.

Twice this year Israel has announced the discovery of tunnels reaching across the border, with the second occasion in May leading to the worst flare-up on the border since the 2014 war.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for around a decade and its border with Egypt also remains largely closed.