An Israeli construction company has expressed an interest in taking on the job of building the wall between the US and Mexico that has become the showpiece of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Saar Koursh, owner of Magal Security Systems, told the Bloomberg news agency that his expertise in constructing barriers around the Occupied Territories and elsewhere qualified his company to take on the 1,000-mile-long project.
Koursh said: "We would join forces with a major US defence company that has experience with such projects worldwide. We’ve done it in the past, and we would definitely want to do it."
The world is changing, and borders are coming back big time– Saar Koursh, Magal Security Systems
Magal, which began life as a subsidiary of Israeli Aerospace Industries in 1969, specialises in engineering "smart fences" that are fitted with video cameras, ground sensors, laser motion detectors and satellite monitoring. It was responsible for erecting these kinds of barrier around the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israel’s southern border with Egypt, as well as in Kenya and Somalia.
Koursh added that a number of factors have contributed to a rising demand for his high-tech security barriers. "The border business was down, but then came ISIS and the Syrian conflict. The world is changing, and borders are coming back big time."
Magal posted a net loss of $500,000 for the first quarter of 2016, which the company blamed on the shekel’s strength against the dollar. However, Koursh told Bloomburg he was considering acquisitions in Europe. Its $14m acquisition in April of Ontario-based Aimetis Corporation, a maker of video surveillance equipment, led to a "smart city" product that it plans to introduce in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon.
Saar Koursh, owner of Magal Security Systems (Magal)
The Los Angeles Times comments that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promoted his country’s expertise in building smart barriers worldwide as a deterrent to cross-border attacks by militant groups, and also credits Israel’s southern border fence with cutting the flow into Israel of African migrants through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
The paper also notes that Palestinians assert that Israel’s Gaza fence has created an open-air prison for the territory’s 1.8 million inhabitants, and Western governments have criticised Israel’s West Bank separation barrier as illegal.
The Israelis have also fitted their wall in the Bethlehem area with a weapon that fires foul-smelling "skunk juice" to disperse protesters on the Palestinian side of the barrier.
The Turkish government recently began work on a smart barrier fitted with computer-controlled machine guns that will automatically challenge, then shoot, anyone within a forbidden zone along the border.
Image: The Occupied Territories "separation barrier" near Bethlehem (Marc Venezia/Wikimedia Commons)