Report: IDF Clearing Forest to Create Exposed Cliffs for Monitoring Lebanese Border
The IDF is clearing large tracts of forest along the northern border with Lebanon to create exposed terraces that would make it difficult for terrorists from groups like Hezbollah to infiltrate Israel, Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon reported on Friday.
The clearing of areas in Israel’s Galilee forests, especially near small towns and villages, is apparently meant to protect against potential terrorist attacks in which enemy militants would attempt to take over a Jewish community.
Senior Northern Command military engineer, Maj. Ariel Glickman, led a Makor Rishon reporter on a tour of the area, explaining that, as things are, Israel cannot properly monitor the forested area from above because of the thick canopy.
“We are working hard to utilize natural obstacles,” said Glickman. “When we make a steep slope it makes it difficult for the enemy to infiltrate.”
According to the report, every kilometer of manufactured cliffs, escarpments in the area’s recognizable white limestone, takes about a month to complete. In April, The Times of Israel reported that the IDF was preparing an 11-kilometer stretch of such terracing in the Western Galilee.
Col. Zacharia Yefet, also an engineer with the Northern Command, told Makor Rishon that the IDF was also laying its own obstacles for potential infiltrators on the exposed cliffs such as cement beams and special fencing.
Like Glickman, Yefet underlined the military’s goal of enhancing natural obstacles while utilizing the actual terrain for operational purposes.
He was also dismissive of locals who said the military was destroying their natural surroundings.
“Sometimes residents can get angry, after we ‘destroyed’ the view of somebody who just built a huge porch facing the forest and suddenly discovered bare land. But, there’s no choice,” he said, adding that in some cases the IDF backed away from land that environmentalists claimed was critical for local wildlife.
According to the report, the army said it was working with environmental authorities and the Jewish National Fund, though some environmental groups have complained about the changing landscape.
Israeli fears of a terrorist takeover of a Jewish community also fueled the military’s campaign last summer in Gaza to destroy dozens of tunnels underneath the Gaza Strip, some dug in the direction of Israeli towns.