After years of efforts to reduce illegal entry along the Egyptian border, Israel has managed to go one entire month without a single illegal entry from the Sinai Peninsula, officials report.
During all of August there were no cases of illegal entrants breaking through or otherwise getting past Israel’s new border fence.
Officials are now working to encourage illegal immigrants currently in Israel to return home voluntarily. Over the course of August 168 people returned voluntarily to Sudan and Eritrea.
Minister of the Interior Gidon Saar welcomed the latest figures, which he said indicate “stopping the infiltration to Israel via the Egyptian border.”
“Every month there are fewer illegal entrants in Israel," he continued. The new "third country" program, which will assist illegal entrants in moving to a country other than their country of origin, will increase the number of voluntary departures, he added.
Israel also faces a problem of foreign workers who enter the country legally, but overstay their visas. In many such cases workers have had children while in Israel, and have fought deportation, claiming that their young children view Israel as their home and should be allowed to stay.
In 2010 the government created criteria under which children of illegal aliens may remain in the country, with their parents, if they have lived in Israel for five consecutive years, learned in the Israeli school system in the most recent academic year, and speak Hebrew.
Last year, the Interior Ministry proposed a regulation to require foreign workers to register with a biometric database.
Recently, it was reported that the Israeli and Ugandan governments had struck a deal whereby the African nation would absorb some of the 55,000 illegal African immigrants in Israel, in exchange for aid.
That deal was denied by a Ugandan government spokesperson, but the reports have highlighted the Israeli government's intense efforts to combat the phenomenon of illegal immigration, which has been blamed for a massive spike in violent crime in some of the country's poorest neighborhoods, in including serious assaults and rape.