The Washington Post reported on Friday that the IDF is operating on the Egyptian side of the border, inside the Sinai Peninsula, to catch African infiltrators and prevent them from entering Israel.
The report said that the Israeli soldiers hand over the infiltrators they catch to the Egyptian army. Human rights organizations are protesting against the IDF's actions, said the report, claiming they are against international law, which requires granting asylum to refugees who are in mortal danger in their homeland.
The IDF Spokesman responded by saying that “The IDF is operating within the border area in a place where the fence has not yet been completed, in order to prevent terrorist activities as well as criminal smuggling and illegal infiltration.”
The Spokesman added, “In recent weeks, the IDF several times had to prevent the entry of illegal aliens during their illegal attempts to enter Israel, until the arrival of Egyptian troops who took the infiltrators. The IDF activity is carried out according to law.”
In recent years the State of Israel has been dealing with a wave of infiltrators from Africa. The infiltrators come in through the non-hermetically sealed border with Egypt. A figure released last month said that there had been about 60,000 infiltrators in Israel.
Israel recently launched an operation dubbed “Going Home”, which combines a police crackdown with financial incentives for illegal infiltrators who leave by choice. Interior Minister Eli Yishai has instructed the Department of Immigration and Population to begin repatriating illegal alien infiltrators from the Ivory Coast.
Official statistics released on July 28 showed that illegal infiltration into Israel through Sinai has plummeted sharply in last two months.
The number of illegal immigrants who crossed the border up to that point in July was 244. In June, the number of infiltrators was 928. In May it was 2,031. This means the rate of infiltration has dropped by over 85% in two months.
Unlike previous months, all of the immigrants crossing the border illegally have been arrested and detained. Before the government changed its policy on infiltration, the infiltrators were escorted by the IDF from the border and then put on buses to Tel Aviv, where they were released.
Last month, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill that would impose a jail sentence or fine on illegal aliens who send money abroad.
According to the new law, transfer of funds abroad by an illegal alien will be punishable by six months in jail or a fine of NIS 29,200. A person convicted of assisting an infiltrator to transfer funds will face up to 12 months in jail – twice the sentence facing the infiltrator himself.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)