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PM Warns: Illegal African Migrants Could Overrun Israel

PM Netanyahu warned that illegal infiltrators are "threatening the fabric of Israeli society, its national security and national identity."
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 5/20/2012, 2:41 PM

Illegal African immigrants
Illegal African immigrants
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday of the need to prevent Israel from being swamped by “illegal infiltrators flooding the country,” Army Radio reported. 

"If we don't stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state," he said at the weekly cabinet meeting, held this week at Ammunition Hill in honor of Jerusalem Unification Day.

Netanyahu continued to state that the influx is "threatening the fabric of Israeli society, its national security and its national identity."

The Prime Minister asserted that as a result of the “flood” of illegal African migrants through the Egyptian border, Israel is “forced to erect a physical barrier that will be completed by October.”

More than 50,000 Africans have poured into Israel since 2005.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai said that African migrants who do not willingly leave the country will be jailed or expelled. "I need to return security to the citizens of Israel," Yishai told Army Radio.

"Those who believe that it would help if we give them jobs are wrong. They have taken root here. (Giving them jobs) would be one of the biggest mistakes the government could make," he added.

Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said that illegal immigration is "not a socio-economic problem, but a strategic one," adding that the Mossad and the Shin Bet security service should be tasked with "stopping the flow (of illegal migrants) and dealing with crime networks and smugglers."

The mounting number of migrants is high on the national agenda following a series of crimes, including rapes, which have been blamed on the illegal newcomers.