The Israel Defense Forces plans to build an electronic fence along the Israeli-Egyptian border, from Eilat all the way to Kerem Shalom, on the southern tip of the Gaza Strip.

However, no budget has yet been approved for the project.

The idea of the fence first arose about two years ago, sparked by smuggling across the Egyptian border. In addition to the arms smuggling into Gaza, there is massive smuggling across sections of the border that adjoin Israel of drugs, prostitutes and also arms, some of which later make their way into the West Bank. It is the arms smuggling that particularly concerns the IDF.

At one point, there was a plain wire fence along part of this border, but it was easily torn down and failed to stop the smuggling. Israel and Egypt have also discussed the deployment of hundreds of Egyptian policemen along this border to stop the trafficking, particularly following implementation of the disengagement plan, but the IDF feels that Egypt cannot be relied on as its anti-smuggling efforts to date have been ineffectual. Therefore, it decided to build an electronic fence.

Army sources said the plan calls for a relatively cheap fence, in no way resembling the barrier now being built between Israel and the West Bank. The West Bank fence costs about NIS 10 million per kilometer; the planned southern fence will cost far less.

Even so, it is not clear if the necessary funding will be found. The project would require an increase to the defense budget, which would need approval from both the finance and defense ministries, and though the army has not yet approached the Finance Ministry on this matter, it seems doubtful that the fence would be high on the treasury's priority list.

The first stage of the fence is slated to be built along the northernmost part of the border, around Nitzana, since that is where most of the known smugging routes run. If money is tight, the IDF might decide to stop after that section.