Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit on Tuesday evening to the Ye’elim neighborhood in Eilat.
The neighborhood has been suffering from illegal infiltrators from Africa who enter Israel through its border with Egypt and then proceed to the southern tourist city. Recent statistics showed that infiltrations of Africans into Israel reached a dizzying pace, with approximately 950 people infiltrating from Sinai through the Egyptian border in the first week of November alone.
The infiltrations grow month by month, but the Population and Immigration Authority has said that it cannot prevent the infiltrators from going to urban areas and being employed illegally, because they do not have a facility in which to keep them until possible deportation. Tens of thousands have remained in Israel, which often does not deport them and instead allows them to remain in the country.
In one incident last May, dozens of Sudanese and Eritrean infiltrators entered Eilat in the wee hours of the morning and began knocking on doors, seeking food and water.
During his visit to the Ye’elim neighborhood, Netanyahu met with infiltrators and asked them how they entered Israel and what was the purpose of their arrival. He later spoke with local residents, who complained about the problems created by the infiltrators, and assured them that “in less than a year we plan to complete the construction of the fence on the southern border, which will significantly reduce infiltrators’ ability to enter the country.”
Earlier, Netanyahu spoke at a lawyers’ conference taking place in Eilat, where he said that the infiltrators from Africa arrive looking for employment and are not refugees.
“Despite the global turmoil that requires us to act responsibly when it comes to economics, there will be a budget increase to complete the fence in less than a year,” Netanyahu told the conference participants. “I’ve been in the area three times already in order to inspect the progress of the construction.”
During his visit with Eilat’s residents, Netanyahu was accompanied by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, Justice Ministry Director-General Dr. Guy Rotkoff and Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi.