Two and a half million Africans are on Egyptian soil, waiting for a chance to cross the border illegally into Israel, Interior Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich told fellow cabinet ministers Sunday.
The problem of infiltration by work seekers cost Israel 105 million shekels last year and will cost the state additional hundreds of millions of shekels in the coming months, Aharonovich said.
The minister said that the number of workers currently in Israel illegally is about 155,000. Most of these reside in the cities of Tel Aviv, Arad and Eilat, and a new place of concentration is the port city Ashdod. About 15,000 infiltrators reside in Israel's southern district. Eight thousand of these are in Eilat, where they comprise about 10%-15% of the total population. About 2,000 are in Ashdod.
About 50,000 illegal workers reside around Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station.
Since January, about 7,000 illegal workers entered Israel from the Egyptian border. Every month, he said, about 1,200 more enter. This number is roughly that of an average prison's entire population, he noted, and explained that incarcerating the infiltrators is therefore not a practical option.
Aharonovich said that the infiltration problem was a national one that requires the attention of the entire governmental system and not just one ministry. This contention is in line with the recommendations recently made by MK Yaakov Katz (NU), to appoint a minister to coordinate policy with regard to the problem.
Aharonovich noted that the infiltrators are not asylum seekers but rather people who want to improve their financial situation and avoid army service in their home countries.