PM Netanyahu at Egyptian border fence 311.
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO)
The Defense Ministry put the finishing touches on the first completed section of
the security fence on Israel's southern border with the Sinai Peninsula, and
vowed that by the end of the year the fence will cover 100 kilometers of the
approximately 240 kilometer porous border with Egypt.
surveying and leveling of the land for the fence began in November, and the
ministry says that they expect the entire fence to be finished by mid-2012, six
months earlier than the NIS 1.35 billion plan was first expected to take.
On Wednesday, Head of the Defense Department Udi Shani visited the work
site and according to the department, received a briefing from troops stationed
at the site on the progress of the work being carried out.
said that soldiers present informed Shani that since work began, there has been
a 50 percent drop in the number of “infiltrators” who have entered Israel in
comparison to the same period of time in 2010.
Figures released in mid-
May by the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) found that 2,600
migrants have entered Israel’s southern border since the beginning of 2011,
including well over 350 in the first two weeks of May.
Virtually all of
the African migrants in Israel enter the country after being smuggled across the
Sinai Peninsula by Beduin smuggling gangs. They tend to pass into Israel
relatively unhindered, largely due to the lack of a border fence and the low
density of troops on the southern border.
The most recent comprehensive
report released by PIBA in February stated that there were some 33,273 “illegal
infiltrators” in Israel of December 23, 2010. Of these, 19,442 are from Eritrea,
8,256 from Sudan and 5,575 from other African countries.
The influx of
African migrants has been an especially hot issue for many residents of Eilat,
which is the first destination for many of those entering Israel from Sinai.
City leaders have repeatedly demanded the state take steps to stop the migrants
from entering Israel, and have threatened to blockade the city unless the fence