African migrant workers are continuing to infiltrate Israel despite the ongoing
construction of a hi-tech barrier along the border with Egypt, government
officials said this week.
Since the beginning of the year, nearly 5,000
African migrant workers have crossed into the country illegally. In January,
2,171 workers crossed into Israel, followed by 1,303 in February – similar
numbers to the last quarter of 2011. In total, 16,851 workers infiltrated the
country last year.
The Defense Ministry and IDF have so far completed the
construction of about 120 km. of the fence, and plan to complete an additional
100 km. by the end of the year. The fence, 5 meters high and layered with barbed
wire, is supported by dozens of radars, which are deployed along the border to
alert the army to potential infiltrations from kilometers away.
Israel is trying to stem the flow of migrant workers into the country, it is
primarily concerned with the possibility that terrorists will launch another
attack along the border similar to the one in August that killed eight
Last week, the Counterterrorism Bureau in the Prime Minister’s
Office issued an urgent travel advisory warning Israelis to leave the Sinai
Peninsula immediately. In addition, the IDF is constantly beefing up its forces
along the border and recently transferred armored jeeps from the West Bank and
the Northern Command to the border to be used by forces located
While Israel suspects that Palestinian terrorist groups are
setting up operations in the Sinai, the local Beduin population, which is
believed to be turning more radical, is doing a lot of the work. It was Beduin
who carried out the attacks in August, for example, not Palestinians – who are,
however, believed to have directed the effort by proxy.
has posed a major challenge to Israeli intelligence agencies, which are
encountering difficulty obtaining information on the Beduin clans that control
the Sinai Peninsula.
As the IDF continues to close the border, though,
predictions are that the number of illegal migrant workers coming in will drop
and that terrorist infiltrations will become more difficult. The IDF fears that
terrorists will then try to replicate the terrorist methods of organizations
like Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and begin planting bombs along the border
and firing rockets into Eilat.