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Israel Demands Egypt Step Up Border Patrols

As illegal immigrants continue to cross Israel's frontier with Egypt, Israeli officials demand Cairo improve its border monitoring efforts
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 1/6/2012, 12:48 PM

Israeli authorities demanded Egyptian officials move with greater alacrity to improve monitoring along the Sinai border on Thursday.

Egyptian security officers told the Palestinian Authority affiliated Ma'an News Agency the warning was issued after 17 migrants crossed illegally into Israel on Wednesday.

Ironically, the Egyptian security officials said Israel was employing migrant African workers in their bid to complete the border fence on its Sinai frontier.

Their assertion could not be confirmed, but observers note Egyptian soldiers may have erroneously assumed workers from Israel's community of Ethiopian Jews were illegal African workers.

Israel sped up construction of the fence in August following a deadly cross-border terror attack from Sinai that left eight Israelis dead near Eilat.

The renewed effort also comes amid a growing illegal immigration problem in Israel as refugees from war-torn African nations and those seeking work in the Jewish state cross the Sinai border daily.

Israeli officials previously warned Cairo over its failure to stop African refugees crossing through Egypt and the Sinai and then into Israel in late 2011.

Early in December 2011, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced he would fly to Africa to arrange the return of illegal immigrants now in Israel.

“I intend to travel to Africa later to discuss and advance procedures for returning them to Africa.  In any case, this is unjustified…. These are very important steps to ensure the future of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," Netanyahu told the Cabinet.

"We are talking about entire populations… and if we do not act to stop this illegal flood, we will simply be inundated," he added.