Israel’s Route 12, which leads to Eilat, will be re-opened in the coming days after being closed for more than half a year following a deadly multi-pronged terror attack last summer that took the lives of eight Israelis, Brig. Gen. Nadav Fadan announced Thursday.
Officials will conduct a situational analysis over the weekend before the road can be officially re-opened. Once they give the green light, the road will be re-opened in stages; at first between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow for additional fortification and improvements, before eventually being opened full-time.
As part of the project, the defense establishment has poured money and resources into the construction of an Israel-Egypt border fence over the past few months, a project they hope will help stem the flood of illegal immigrants who have been infiltrating Israel through its porous southern border.
When completed, the fence will span around 240 kilometers (149 miles). To date, 95 km (59 miles) have been constructed, and officials hope to have 107 km (66.5) in place my March. By July, they hope to see that number stretch to 180 km (112 miles).
The fence itself is not solely a physical barrier, but a complex network of obstacles more advanced than any like it in Israel. It is comprised of trenches, barbed wire, surveillance and communications equipment, tracking sand (a path of sand that is groomed daily so that footprints on it are notably visible), and a metal fence that at some point is 7 meters (23 feet) high. Engineering work was performed on the ground so as to prevent infiltrators from digging under the fence. Brig. Gen. Eran Ofir is leading the project.
In addition to the fence, intelligence gathering operations have been ramped up along the Israel-Egypt border to counter the new threat from the Sinai Peninsula. A new intelligence battalion was formed and around 40 observation/surveillance/listening posts have been placed, alongside cameras, radar and other equipment used to increase intelligence gathering. Ground forces which were once not deployed on the border have now been assigned to the region, as an incident on the border could call for a swift and large-scale response.
One such event that the IDF is preparing for is the abduction of a soldier or Israeli civilian into Egyptian territory. “Intelligence gathering will provide us with early warning of suspicious activity and will prevent infiltration,” Fadan said. He said that a rise in terrorist activity along the Israel-Egypt border is directly the fault of Hamas, which operates from within the Gaza Strip. “We are witnesses to how the situation in the Sinai Peninsula, and our ties with the Egyptian military, is being maliciously twisted,” he said.