African Refugees 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The number of illegal infiltrators into Israel from Egypt dropped in January to 400 from a monthly average of 1,000 throughout 2010, defense officials said on Tuesday.
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Defense Ministry Director- General Udi Shani toured the border on Tuesday and met with the different contractors who are working on erecting a fence along 200 kilometers of the 240 km-long border. Shani was informed that the work is expected to be completed by the end of 2012, half a year earlier than initially planned.
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Officials said that the sharp drop in the number of infiltrators was due to the increased presence of construction workers as well as IDF soldiers and border policemen along the border.
“There are currently six different contractors working simultaneously on six different sections of the border that are the most problematic,” one official explained.
Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the Defense Ministry to speed up work on the border fence in light of the political upheaval in Egypt and the possibility of a regime change and a takeover by radical Islamists.
The officials said that the government’s announcement that it was building a new detention center for the illegal migrants had also likely created deterrence and led some potential infiltrators to cancel their plans.
Last month, a study put together by the Knesset Research and Information Center showed that there are at least 100,000 foreign workers illegally employed in Israel.
According to the Knesset report, as of December 15, 2010, there were 31,840 African migrants who had crossed over the Egyptian border illegally.
Of the illegal migrants, some 70 percent are from Eritrea and 20% are from Sudan. The remaining 10% are from a number of other African countries such as Ivory Coast and Chad, or other countries such as China, Turkey or Ukraine.