Netanyahu Announces Plan to Deal with Infiltrators

Prime Minister Netanyahu's new plan for dealing with illegal work infiltrators will be submitted for Cabinet approval on Sunday.

Elad Benari,

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Israel news photo: Eli Mandelbaum

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan for dealing with illegal work infiltrators will be submitted for Cabinet approval on Sunday, December 12.

The plan, the details of which were revealed by Netanyahu’s office on Wednesday, is composed of several parallel stages:

In the first stage, the Egypt-Eilat border fence will be completed, with 280 million shekels being allocated for this purpose. Work is now being carried out on the 180-kilometer fence, of which a 70-kilometer section has already been completed. It is anticipated that the fence will be completed in less than one year, and it will be a physical barrier for 240 kilometers, from Kerem Shalom to Taba, which will impede the entry of illegal work infiltrators.

As part of the second stage, the Saharonim facility at Ketziot, where infiltrators are being held, will be expanded from 2,200 places to 5,500 and will enable illegal work infiltrators to be housed for extended periods, according to law.

In addition, fines against those employing illegal infiltrators will be significantly increased; in certain cases, businesses may be closed.

At the same time, illegal infiltrators will be transferred to the new housing center when it is built; 250 million shekels will be allocated for this purpose. At the center, infiltrators who cannot be returned to their country of origin or to a third country will be provided with all of their basic needs: Lodging, food and health services. An additional 100 million shekels will be allocated to operate and maintain the center.

Finally, a plan will be formulated for deporting illegal work infiltrators. The cost of the plan, according to Netanyahu’s office’s statement, is 630 million shekels, in addition to the 1.5 billion shekels that have already been invested. In order not to break the budgetary framework, all ministries will be asked to allocate 2% of their budgets.

“Israel is a small country,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday. “We cannot allow ourselves to be flooded by illegal work infiltrators. This threatens our society, our economy and our security. Therefore, we must expedite our dealing with the problem.”

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.

Last week, Netanyahu visited the Ye’elim neighborhood in Eilat, which has been suffering from illegal infiltrators. 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.”