|DETERRENT High-tech Israeli barrier begins to draw interest from abroad.|
The construction of Israels security barrier has been highly controversial for nearly two years but the project has been a boon for the companies involved in supplying the sophisticated technology. Two Israeli firms that focus on perimeter security are supplying most of the high-tech sensors and electronic equipment for the 730-kilometer array of fences, walls and trenches designed to impede terrorist threats.
Magal Security Systems Ltd. and Ortek Ltd., a subsidiary of one of Israels largest defense companies, Elbit Systems Ltd., are approved by the Israeli Defense Ministry to provide perimeter security equipment for the project. "This is a very high visibility project and the largest of its kind for Magal," says CEO Izhar Dekel.
The $2.5-billion "fence" now being built is the largest construction project in Israels history. So far, over 300 km have been completed. Smaller-scale fences were built in the past along the countrys northern border with Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
The fence is comprised of a 50-meter- wide strip with a ditch and pyramid- shaped stack of six coils of barbed wire running along its eastern side. There is a path enabling the Israeli army to patrol on both sides, along with an intrusion-detection fence with sophisticated sensors to warn of any incursion in any weather. A smooth strip of sand runs parallel to the fence to detect footprints. In some areas walls have been erected to protect against sniper fire. A string of observation posts runs along the route (ENR 3/29 p. 22).
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"We have a representative that takes part in the planning from the initial stages to see that our specifications are met," said Avi Barak, president of Ortek.
The main barrier is built of concrete beams in 20-m to 60-m-long segments. Engineers say sophisticated electronic detection equipment complicates construction. "The break in each segment must be uniform so that the vertical changes in the slope along the entire route will be coordinated with the breaking point of each horizontal concrete beam," says one senior Israeli engineer working on the project. Each beam must be stepped up to meet the existing land slope that changes along the route.
One of the most difficult segments is in the Jerusalem area. The hilly topography and urban environment complicate surveillance, which depends on line of sight. Ortek was awarded the 25-km-long segment in the Jerusalem area and is using thermal imaging equipment to deal with the complex task of surveillance.
Publicity surrounding Israels security fence has been good for business abroad for both Magal and Ortek, say company officials, without giving details. The rising terrorist threat has led to growing inter-est in perimeter security abroad, where the market is experiencing double-digit growth, they say. The U.S. market is still in its infancy but could get a boost soon when the Dept. of Homeland Security issues guidelines for infrastructure-critical installations.