Reuters International

The sun sets over the Gaza Strip, as seen from the Israeli side, September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

(reuters_tickers)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has begun construction of an underground barrier along the frontier with the Gaza Strip that is meant to block cross-border tunnels built by Palestinian militants, Israeli defence and political sources said on Thursday.

Since being blindsided during a 2014 war by tunnel raiders from the Hamas Islamist group that controls Gaza, Israel has stepped up work on technologies for spotting the secret passages. Currently Israel has a fence along the border.

Military engineers unearthed and destroyed 32 tunnels during the war, Israeli officials say, and the military has since uncovered two others.

One Israeli political source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the government has already budgeted some 600 million shekels (119.77 million pounds) to build one section section of the underground concrete barrier.

The barrier will eventually be about 65 km in length, the source said.

Israel's Defence Ministry declined to comment on the issue.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch)

reuters_tickers

 Reuters International