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Ketzaleh Wins Praise for Border Fence

Even political opponents admit that the fence along Egyptian border is a success. Ketzaleh continues to push migrant city.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/15/2011, 9:20 AM / Last Update: 7/15/2011, 10:03 AM

Liron Weiss

MK Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz (Ichud Leumi) won praise Thursday for pushing the construction of a fence along the Egyptian border even when the plan sounded unrealistic to many. Ketzaleh toured the fence on Thursday afternoon in the course of his work as head of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers.

IDF officers accompanying the Knesset tour praised Ketzaleh for pushing the idea of a fence for years in response to the massive infiltration of illegal entrants – an issue that many other politicians ignored at the time.

The fence also aimed to put a stop to widespread drug smuggling on the southern border. According to security officials, the project has been a success in that area as well. While drug smuggling used to take place an estimated 65 times a month, police believe it now occurs a mere eight times per month.

Even MK Nitzan Horowitz of the far-left Meretz party, whose political views differ wildly from Ketzaleh's, stated that the project Ketzaleh had thought up years ago – which had initially sounded “delusional,” Horowitz said – is quickly becoming a reality.

Ketzaleh expressed satisfaction with the part of the fence built thus far, but continued to push for more to be done. He called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to institute a second plan of his aimed at fighting infiltration – the construction of a city for illegal entrants. The creation of a migrant city would make it easier for Israel to ensure that migrants' needs are being met, while at the same time not flooding Israel's cities with cheap labor or criminal activity, Ketzaleh has argued.

He also hopes the initiative would discourage illegal entry by preventing work seekers from disappearing into Israeli cities and joining the local workforce.

While illegal entry to Israel dropped by 50% after work began on the fence, it has since picked up again, possibly as work seekers, most of them African, make a last-ditch attempt to enter before the fence is completed. An estimated 2,000 people managed to cross the southern border illegally in July, following the entrance of a total of 5,000 illegal entrants in the first half of 2011.