MK calls on gov't to deal with 'infiltrators' from Sinai

David Azoulay asks for special Border Patrol unit to prevent illegal immigration via Egyptian border, says situation "worse than we imagined."

311_African migrants (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
311_African migrants
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Members of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee toured the Egyptian border with Israel on Sunday, to examine the issue of illegal migration through the porous border with Sinai.
During the visit, committee head David Azoulay (Shas) called on the government to deploy more soldiers on the border with Egypt, and form a special Border Police unit for the area. He also met with Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy, who spoke to Azoulay about how the migrants issue has affected the southern city.
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On Sunday, Azoulay said the Knesset needs to immediately discuss the issue of illegal immigration and adopt official policies on the issue.
He also accused the government of “burying its head in the sand” in regards to the issue, which he said “is worse than we imagined.”
He said “the committee is asking the Interior Ministry to check the status of the infiltrators, including who is considered a migrant worker and who is a refugee. The committee also asks the prime minister and the finance minister to provide funding to the city of Eilat, to help them deal with the high number of infiltrators in the city.”
Three months ago, Azoulay sent a letter to Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman in an effort to advance legislation dealing with the issue.
Sunday’s visit came as the issue of illegal migration from Sinai has become a hotbutton issue. There are an estimated 35,000 such migrants in Israel, with the number crossing into the country each month reaching as high as 2,000, well over double the rate last year.
The majority have settled in the Tel Aviv area, mainly in the poorer southern environs of the city, a phenomenon that has been met in recent months by protests from local residents.
The issue of the border fence is also expected to take on greater urgency in light of the country-wide anti-government riots taking place across Egypt over the past six days. On Saturday, gun battles between Beduin and police in Sinai left at least 12 people dead.
The tour on the border covered several concerns related to the migrant issue, including how they cross the border, how they are processed in Israel, what type of legal status they receive, and whether it’s possible to deport them and if so, how.
In November, work began on a barrier on the border with Egypt, an initiative that is expected to cost approximately NIS 1.35 billion.
The project will include a physical barrier supported by electronic sensors, and is expected to take up to a year to build.