New Ei­lat air­port gets mis­sile-de­flec­tor fence

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • BY ANNA AHRONHEIM

Two years af­ter work be­gan on the smart fence ca­pa­ble of stop­ping Kor­net mis­siles aimed to­wards Is­rael’s new­est civil­ian air­port – Ei­lat Ilan and As­saf Ra­mon In­ter­na­tional Air­port – the 26-me­ter-high fence has been com­pleted.

The fence, which extends 4.5 km, is part of a larger 34-kilo­me­ter six-me­ter-high fence along the Jor­da­nian border which runs from Ei­lat to Kib­butz Sa­mar north of Timna. It fea­tures elec­tron­ics, sen­sors and de­tec­tion tech­nol­ogy to en­sure that in­com­ing and de­part­ing planes are pro­tected from all types of threats.

Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior of­fi­cer in the IDF who is fa­mil­iar with the project, while the Jor­da­nian border is one of Is­rael’s qui­etest as Am­man has a strong and ef­fec­tive army which places great em­pha­sis on pro­tect­ing its borders, a na­tional strategic as­set like an air­port made the army re­al­ize that a fence such as this was needed.

“Some­one may fire a mis­sile at the new air­port and then it would be gone,” he said. “This fence will stop the mis­siles.”

The new fa­cil­ity is the first civil­ian air­port to be built in the coun­try since the es­tab­lish­ment of the state in 1948 and is be­ing built in the Timna Val­ley, 19 km. north of Ei­lat. It will re­place Ei­lat’s J. Hoz­man Air­port lo­cated in the city it­self as well as Ovda Air­port lo­cated some 60 km. north of Ei­lat.

The Ei­lat Ilan and As­saf Ra­mon In­ter­na­tional Air­port is ex­pected to han­dle an es­ti­mated two mil­lion trav­el­ers each year and is set to open in March 2019.

A se­nior of­fi­cer in the De­fense Min­istry and army’s fence-build­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion said the fence is based on the model de­vel­oped for those de­ployed on the borders of Egypt and in the Golan Heights, but in ac­cor­dance with the unique to­pog­ra­phy of the Arava.

Ex­ten­sive care was put into plan­ning the fence, de­vel­oped along with en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion au­thor­i­ties in such a way that it would not dam­age or in­ter­fere with the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment. For ex­am­ple, eco­log­i­cal cross-pas­sages have been placed along the en­tire length of the fence to al­low flood­wa­ter to flow and an­i­mals to pass through.

The project was car­ried out by dozens of con­trac­tors from the De­fense Min­istry’s Engi­neer­ing and Con­struc­tion Depart­ment, among oth­ers. As part of the con­struc­tion, the min­istry cleared some 13 sq. km. of old mine­fields.

Sim­i­lar to the bar­ri­ers on Is­rael’s other borders, the fence in­cludes new roads, ob­ser­va­tion tow­ers and other se­cu­rity fa­cil­i­ties. Com­mand cen­ters have also been built and all relevant au­thor­i­ties such as the IDF, Shin Bet (Is­rael Se­cu­rity Agency), Is­rael Po­lice and Home Front Com­mand will have ac­cess to the in­tel­li­gence gath­ered by the sen­sors.

In ad­di­tion to pro­tect­ing the air­port, the fence will stop mi­grants, crim­i­nals and ter­ror­ists from in­fil­trat­ing into Is­rael from Jor­dan.

The fence along the Egyptian border has slashed the num­ber of il­le­gal African mi­grants ar­riv­ing in Is­rael, from 14,669 in­fil­tra­tions in 2010 to 213 in 2015, and only 14 in 2016. But the num­ber of suc­cess­ful in­fil­tra­tions prompted au­thor­i­ties to raise the height of the fence from five to eight me­ters along a 17-kilo­me­ter stretch. There have been no in­fil­tra­tions from Si­nai since.

(Anna Ahronheim)

THE HI-TECH se­cu­rity fence sur­round­ing the new Ra­mon Air­port, sched­uled to open in March 2019, has now been com­pleted.

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