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2,000 Illegal African Infiltrators Cross Southern Israeli Border

Israelis are concerned over a tidal wave of infiltrators threatening to drown the southern region after Egypt's revolution.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 9/1/2011, 12:39 PM

Ketzaleh on Egyptian border
Ketzaleh on Egyptian border
Liron Weiss

Residents in southern cities are concerned over a tidal wave of African infiltrators threatening to drown the region after Egypt's revolution.

In the month of August alone, some 2,000 infiltrators were able to sneak through the border into Israel, according to the Population and Immigration Authority. The data indicated that at least 111 of those managed to enter the country in one night. By December 2010 an estimated 36,000 African asylum seekers had managed to cross the border into Israel illegally, according to government statistics.

Last November, the government voted to build a detention facility in which to house infiltrators until a decision could be made on their status.

The facility, to be operated by the Israel Prison Service, was intended to hold some 8,000 individuals, for up to three years. But it is not built and as the months have passed, thousands of infiltrators from the African continent have poured through the Egyptian border.

Even prior to the Tahrir Square Revolution that toppled the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, security at the border was barely controlled. But the advent of the “Arab Spring” swept aside any semblance of security along the Egyptian-Israeli border, sources said.

The August 18 multi-pronged terrorist attack by a 20-member terrorist cell that left eight Israelis dead and 40 wounded on Route 12 north of Eilat, along that same porous border, is an example in point, sources said.

Various ministries are busy pointing fingers at each other to lay the blame for the phenomenon at each others' doorsteps.

The Public Security Ministry claimed in a statement that the facility is “working on building” the center, which is to begin operations “in a few months.” The reason for the delay, the ministry said, was due to the necessity of adding 1,000 more spaces for infiltrators.

The Defense Ministry meanwhile pointed out that if the Population and Immigration Authority would have implemented the government's decision as fast as Defense is building the security fence, there would be far less infiltration.

However, it is relevant to note that the Defense Ministry recently issued a bid for development of an 50-kilometer (31 miles) segment of the infrastructure of the earthworks for the construction of the security fence at the Israeli-Egyptian border. Just 45 kilometers (28 miles) of the fence have been built thus far along the 230 kilometer (143 miles) border. The razor-sharp serrated-topped iron fence is fitted with electronic security equipment.

Knesset Member Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz (National Union) warned meanwhile that any further delay in building the holding facility will lead to a demographic disaster. “The construction delays will lead to some 50,000 infiltrators telling their families in Africa they can receive pampering treatment in Israel,” Katz said.