JERUSALEM - Israel has said the work to strengthen its fence along the Gaza Strip entered a new phase with construction starting on a massive new barrier along the frontier.

"Over the weekend we began building the above-ground barrier along the Gaza border," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told journalists on Sunday before a weekly cabinet meeting.

The barrier, set to stand six metres off the ground, will be constructed on the pretext of preventing the infiltration of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Israel, Netanyahu said.

The Israeli prime minister gave no further details but a defence ministry statement said the work on the structure began on Thursday.

It is set to follow the 65km course of an underground barrier also under construction meant to neutralise the threat of cross-border tunnels built by fighters from Gaza.

At its western end, the statement said, the above-ground barrier would join a fortified sea wall jutting into the Mediterranean aimed at blocking Palestinian attacks by water.

The construction of the wall is expected to finish by the end of the year.(FA)