Stream of Infiltrators Widens as Fence Begins
November saw a dramatic increase in the number of Africans who entered Israel via the southern border. According to the Interior Ministry, 1,940 people entered Israel illegally from Egypt over the past month, 600 more than had entered the country in October.
The increase came as Israel began work on a border fence aimed at staunching the surge of illegal entry.
Ministry officials believe that migrant laborers in Egypt will make an extra effort to cross the Israeli border in the upcoming months, in an attempt to reach Israel before the fence is complete.
Tens of thousands of people from sub-Saharan Africa have entered Israel in recent years, and the number of entrants has steadily grown each year. Several hundred have been recognized as refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan; the remaining entrants are largely work seekers.
In this week's cabinet session it was revealed that in 2009 an average of 300 people crossed the southern border into Israel each month, while in 2010, that number had grown to between 1,200 and 1,500. An estimated 35,000 people have entered Israel illegally from Egypt.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai has asked to speed up work on the border fence by giving a government contract to multiple companies.