Israel Approves Fence Along Jordan Border to Prevent Infiltration of Jihadists

Fear of shootings and booby-trapped cars speeding towards the border prompted the plan; the separation fence is the second one Israel is to erect along its eastern border.

Work on a fence along the southern part of the Jordan border, September 6, 2015.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Israel is planning to build a separation fence along the northern part of the border with Jordan in order to prevent the infiltration of global jihadists from Islamic State and other movements.

Fear of scenarios in which booby-trapped cars speed towards the border or shootings occur prompted the plan, which was drawn up by the Defense Ministry and approved by senior ministry officials.

This stretch of the fence will be located in the southern Golan Heights, close to where the borders of Israel, Jordan and Syria meet.

On Tuesday, Israeli security forces arrested two Palestinians attempting to smuggle firearms across the border from Jordan. The troops seized 20 handguns and five M16 assault rifles. The suspects were taken for interrogation.

In 2013 the Defense Ministry completed the construction of a massive 90-kilometer-long separation fence in the Golan Heights that stretches from Mount Hermon in the north until Hamat Gader. The new fence — which includes a surveillance system to detect border infiltrations — will be erected south of Hamat Gader. It will be a few kilometers long and cost 27 million shekels ($7 million), according to a source in the defense establishment.

Last year the cabinet approved the start of another separation fence along Israel's southern border with Jordan, in the Arava desert, near the site of the international airport being constructed in Timna.

The construction of the fence along the Jordan border is a sensitive issue for the two countries. When the first fence was announced last year, the Prime Minister’s Office noted that it would be built on the Israeli side of the border, and would “not harm the sovereignty of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and its national interests, which will be honored.”

A fence built along the Israeli-Egypt border in 2010 has dramatically stemmed the flow of asylum seekers crossing into Israel from over 10,000 a year to just a few hundred or a even few dozen a year.

The Israel Defense Forces is preparing for the possibility of infiltrations on the eastern border. Earlier this month, a Jordanian citizen jumped the border into Israel and was shot by a security guard after throwing rocks at a car in the Jordan Valley. There have also been instances of people crossing into Israeli territory from the southern border with Jordan in the Arava desert.

ISIS activity in the region is a problem not only for the IDF, but for the Jordanian army as well.

The area where the fence is being built is prime agricultural land, but the IDF believes its presence will not hinder farmers.

In a tour of the southern Golan Heights, where a separation fence has already been built, agriculture continues unabated adjacent to five-meter-high metal plates. The IDF wants farmers to continue working, even in a situation in which there is “agriculture next to the fence — right across from the Islamic State,” according to one of the officers serving in the region.

The cost of a fence along the entire length of the Jordan border is estimated at 3 billion shekels.