Defense officials want a fence to be built on the Jordanian border to ward off any jihadi infiltrators and protect the new Timna airport, whose construction is due to be completed next year.
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Jordan is Israel’s only border not blocked by a fence, and the airport will be about 200 meters from the frontier. The fence, however, will have to be approved by the government sometime after this Tuesday’s election.
“There is a plan to place an entire array in the Timna region at an estimated cost of roughly 2 billion shekels [$497 million],” an officer serving in the south said.
About a year ago, a fence was completed on the Egyptian border. The fence in the east would at first be 30 kilometers (19 miles) long, and intelligence-gathering devices would be placed nearby.
There has been a steady flow of refugees from Iraq and Syria into Jordan, and defense officials fear that global jihadists could seep through. A senior officer, however, said he knew of no specific activity in Jordan by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
The fence, which has been approved by Southern Command chief Sami Turgeman, stresses the need to protect Timna, which will replace Eilat and Ovda airports in the south. The new facility, to be named after late astronaut Ilan Ramon and his late fighter-pilot son Assaf, is expected to start business by the summer of 2016.
According to a senior officer in the south, defensive reconnaissance efforts have already been increased in the sector. The Engineering Corps’ nuclear, biological and chemical battalion is one unit stationed in the region, the Arava.