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Israel begins work on underground Gaza wall: reports

Reports say Israel has started construction on subterranean wall to thwart Hamas tunnel attacks
Israel has a strong track record of building walls along its borders (AFP)

Israel has begun building an underground wall around Gaza to stop Hamas attack tunnels, Israeli media and a local council official said on Thursday.

"Construction has begun along all towns considered to be next to the fence with Gaza," the Ynet news website reported.

It posted a video appearing to show heavy machinery operating along the border.

The defence ministry has reportedly been planning an underground structure around the Palestinian coastal enclave to prevent tunnels being dug into Israel, though the government has neither confirmed nor denied this.

According to Ynet, the barrier would have sensors to detect digging and eventually run the length of the 60km Gaza border.

Gadi Yarkoni, head of Eshkol Regional Council along the border with Gaza, confirmed to AFP on Thursday that works had begun along the border, without giving any detail.

The defence ministry declined to comment.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, used underground tunnels crossing the border to carry out attacks in its last war with Israel in 2014.

Israel has described the tunnels as a strategic threat and Hamas has repeatedly said it is building new tunnels to be used for its defence.

Twice this year, Israel has announced the discovery of tunnels reaching across the border, with the second occasion in May leading to the worst flare-up of violence since the 2014 war.

Israel has a strong track record of building walls along its borders. 

It recently constructed a fence in the Golan Heights which borders war torn Syria. 

Israel also began construction of a separation barrier along the border of the West Bank which houses more than 300,000 Israeli settlers living illegaly in Palestinian territory. 

The wall was deemed illegal according to international law after a ruling by International Court of Justice in 2004. 

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for around a decade and its border with Egypt also remains largely closed.

Closure of Gaza's border with Egypt and the blockade imposed by Israel has also led to the stagnation of the Gazan economy. 

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