Ten percent of Tel Aviv’s population will be African migrants by the end of next
year, if a detention center for “infiltrators” is not built, MK Ya’acov Katz
(National Union), chairman of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, warned
Katz announced that he will introduce a bill to speed up the
facility’s construction, following a meeting of his Knesset panel to discuss why
it still has not been built. The detention center, meant to hold Africans who
illegally cross the Egyptian border, was approved by the cabinet in November and
was supposed to be built in the Halutza Dunes area near Gaza and Sinai within
Anti-infiltrator law passes first reading in Knesset
Border fence leads to sharp drop in infiltrators from Egypt
Hillel Friman, representing the Prime Minister’s Office, told
the MKs that the detention center was not built because of a budget dispute
between the Finance Ministry and the Defense Ministry.
Ministry representative said in response that it cannot transfer funds to build
the facility unless the Bill for the Prevention of Infiltration is approved by
“The Defense and Finance ministries’ answers are not good
enough, when considering the demographic threat,” Katz said, calling for Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to appoint one of the government’s ministers-without-portfolio to take care of the “infiltration problem.”
Katz added that
7,000 people are expected to illegally enter the country through the southern
border in 2011, bringing the number of illegal immigrants in Israel to nearly
42,000. More than 400 such migrants have crossed into Israel since the beginning
“If infiltrators continue to enter at this rate, there will be
50,000 by the end of 2012, 40,000 [of them] in Tel Aviv,” he said. “It pains me
that 10% of Tel Aviv’s residents will be infiltrators.”
detention center would be built near the Saharonim Prison, and provide the
migrants with shelter, food and medical services.
Katz also said that the
fence being built on the border with Egypt is being constructed faster than
expected, but that many more migrants will illegally enter Israel before it is
expected to be finished, at the end of 2012.
In February, defense
officials said that the monthly average number of illegal infiltrators into
Israel from Egypt had dropped from 1,000 to 400, due to the fence’s
construction, as well as the increased presence of soldiers and border policemen
in the area.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.