Cabinet to vote on Sinai border barrier

Proposed fence expected to cost NIS 1.35b. and be completed in 2013.

The cabinet on Sunday is expected to approve a proposal to build a barrier along the 240-km. border with Egypt, to prevent the infiltration of terrorists and the smuggling of drugs and illegal workers through the Sinai desert.
The fence, which is expected to cost NIS 1.35 billion, will – according to the proposal to be brought to the cabinet – be completed in 2013. The Defense Ministry will be charged with drawing up a work plan by the end of July for its construction.
The barrier, according to the resolution, will – depending on the topography – be made up of fencing, other physical obstacles and electronic warning devices. It is expected to reduce by 90 percent the number of people being smuggled into Israel from Egypt.
Currently there are almost no barriers along the border, which extends from Kerem Shalom, just south of the Gaza Strip, down to Taba, next to Eilat.
During a tour of the border last month, Prime Minister BinyaminNetanyahu was told by senior IDF officials that if the frontier withEgypt was not closed, then al-Qaida might use Sudanese refugees makingtheir way into the country as cover to infiltrate and set up terroristcells here.
According to the material the ministers will receive on Sunday, thelack of a physical barrier has led to a dramatic rise in smuggling fromSinai. For instance, the number of people smuggled into Israel acrossthat border went – according to Interior Ministry figures – from 1,528in 2004 to a peak of 7,585 in 2008. Last year, an estimated 4,349people were smuggled illegally into Israel from Sinai.