IDF soldiers on the Syria-Israel border.
IDF soldiers on the Syria-Israel border. Photo by Yaron Kaminsky
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The Israel Defense Forces has recently been upgrading the fence along Israel's border with Syria in response to the ongoing fighting in the latter country.

More than 90 percent of the fence, which is about 130 kilometers long in total, was built shortly after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Therefore, major work is needed to make it suitable for the current situation, IDF officers said. Part of the problem is that severe weather in the Golan Heights has battered the fence over the years to the point where in certain places, it barely exists.

The work began a few days ago. Among other things, the plans drafted by the IDF Northern Command call for placing dozens of new information-gathering sensors along the fence, electrifying parts of it so that it will warn of intruders, and laying mines along parts of the border.

According to a Northern Command officer familiar with the details, the plan will cost about NIS 500 million. But so far, the command has allocated only a few million shekels to the work - enough to install the sensors and upgrade about six kilometers of the fence, out of approximately 100 kilometers that the command considers in need of upgrading. The parts most in need of repairs are those closest to Syrian villages.

Some of the necessary additional funding will come from the IDF's multiyear plan, which earmarked funds for upgrading all of Israel's border fences. Last week, the Defense Ministry issued a tender for the second stage of the work on the Syrian border, which will include dozens of additional kilometers of upgraded fencing, combined with various other types of obstacles.

Over the past month, for instance, the IDF has dug a ditch along parts of the border to impede vehicles trying to reach Israeli communities. It has also thickened earthworks and deployed rolls of wire as an additional obstacle.

Northern Command's main concern is the possibility that terrorists will try to launch a cross-border attack on IDF soldiers or on Israeli communities in the Golan. The army's assumption is that the deteriorating situation in Syria is liable to lead to an increase in terrorist activity near the border. Army sources said the volume of attempts to penetrate the border has already increased.