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2,000 Through Porous Sinai Border into Israel

Thousands of infiltrators have crossed the Sinai border, security officials tell Knesset members in a discussion on human trafficking.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 10/5/2011, 12:15 PM

IDF guard tower on Egyptian border
IDF guard tower on Egyptian border
IDF

An estimated 2,000 people managed to sneak through the porous Israel-Egypt border along the Sinai Peninsula in August, according to a report made in the course of a discussion on human trafficking this week in the Knesset. 

In September, at least 1,271 infiltrators are known to have crossed the border from Sinai. The number is double that from September 2010, and reflects the growing lawlessness in the region that has followed Cairo's Tahrir Square Revolution. 

MK Orit Zuaretz, chairperson of the Knesset Committee on Human Trafficking, said Wednesday in a statement that “Israel must re-examine its immigration policies, to do everything possible to identify victims of abuse and to consider the implications of the growing number of illegals.”

It is estimated that by the end of December, as many as 15,000 infiltrators will have succeeded in crossing Israel's borders, more than in any previous year.

More than half – 51 percent – originate from Eritrea and another 32 percent are from Sudan, reported Shimon Bibas, head of the Saharonim prison where the infiltrators are held. The facility was created in 2007 specifically for illegal immigrants who infiltrate from the Sinai Peninsula.

On August 18, eight Israelis died and at least 40 were wounded in a multi-pronged attack near Eilat by a 20-member cell of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) terrorist group. Six Egyptian security officers also died in a the crossfire at the border between Israeli soldiers and the PRC terrorists. The incident sparked weeks of massive protests that led to a privately-paid-for attack  funded by an Egyptian millionaire and others, on the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Former IDF soldiers are likely to find themselves called back to reserve duty more often as a result of anarchy in Sinai, since the defense establishment has been forced to assign many more troops to protect Israel's southern flank.

News of the latest infiltration figures at the Sinai border came as part of a report to the Knesset during a discussion on human trafficking, an issue with which legislators have becoming increasingly concerned.

In the past decade an estimated 25,000 women have been smuggled into Israel over the Egyptian border to be sold as sex slaves, according to Rabbi Levi Lauer, founder of the ATZUM non-governmental organization, which together with the Kabiri-Nevo-Keidar law firm established the Task Force on Human Trafficking to address the issue. ATZUM meets regularly with lawmakers as well as with police and military officials to offer information on changing practices in the field. Israel Police have planned to close their unit for fighting human trafficking, exploitation and cheating.