Eilat mayor: Terrorists could infiltrate Israel's border

Residents shocked as African migrants knock on doors, asking for water; Eilat mayor calls on Barak to take measures to stop influx of African migrants.

May 18, 2011 15:26
2 minute read.
A family of African migrants outside the Knesset (file)

311_African migrants. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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The mayor of Eilat on Wednesday called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak to take immediate steps to stop the influx of African migrants entering the city, saying that Israel faces the risk of terrorists dispatched by Islamic extremists entering through the southern border.

In his letter, Mayor Meir Yitzhak- Halevy said, “today it was illegal infiltrators, and tomorrow it can be terrorists sent by Islamic extremists. I am calling on you [Barak] again, do not abandon the residents of my city.”

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Yitzhak-Halevy’s statement, which was also sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonivitch, the head of the IDF Southern Command and the head of the Israel Police Southern District, followed an incident Wednesday morning where the municipality said a large number of migrants had streamed into the city – some of them making their way to a residential neighborhood where they reportedly knocked on the doors of houses.

“In light of this morning’s severe incident, in which dozens of illegal infiltrators penetrated the city of Eilat, its neighborhoods and houses, during which residents were exposed to violence, I turn to you [Barak] and request that you work in every way possible to protect the residents of Eilat.”

A spokesman for the municipality told The Jerusalem Post that two residents of a western neighborhood of Eilat called city hall to complain that migrants had knocked on their doors asking for water. The spokesman added that police estimate that around 40 or so migrants crossed into Eilat just on Wednesday.

According to the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, 2,600 migrants have crossed the southern border since the beginning of the year, including 350 since the beginning of May alone.

Last week, the mayor also contacted Interior Minister Eli Yishai, asking that he hold an urgent cabinet meeting on the issue.

A city of around 40,000 residents with more than 5,000 African residents, Eilat has been at the center of the African-migrants issue.

As the closest major city to the border with Sinai, it has been inundated with migrants, who have become a common sight working in the hotels and restaurants of the city built by tourism.

Yitzhak-Halevy has waged a campaign against African migrants over the past year, posting red “warning” flags on light posts throughout residential neighborhoods to warn of the presence of migrants, and occasionally threatening to set up checkpoints at the entrances and exits to the city if a solution to the illegal migration is not found.

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