Eli Yishai, Tess Scheflan
Eli Yishai Photo by Tess Scheflan
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Interior Minister Eli Yishai called on the government Monday to take further steps to stop infiltrators from penetrating Israel's southern border.

Israel has begun construction of a barrier along its border with Egypt on Monday in a bid to stem the entry of migrant workers as well as of terrorist elements into Israel.

During a meeting of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, Yishai insisted that the government must allocate more funds to the NIS 1.35 billion construction project in order to expedite it.

Yishai claimed that within two years, another 70 thousand individuals will infiltrate Israel through the Egyptian border, in addition to the 30 thousand that have already come through thus far.

Yishai said that the fact that only 0.01% of the infiltrators are refugees while the rest are migrant workers poses an existential threat to Israel.

"People don't understand what is happening to the neighborhoods in which the migrant workers live," warned Yishai. "People are scared to leave their houses in south Tel Aviv."

"Whoever thinks I'm extreme and have horns – I'll send him some Sudanese to his neighborhood, and then we'll see what he says. Everyone wants to say that they are nice people as opposed to 'extreme Eli Yishai', but in 15 years people will understand the serious implications," he said.

Yishai also urged that the government take additional steps such as place Israel Defense Forces soldiers on the border as well as expedite the construction of holding cells where infiltrators could be placed. He also claimed that if businesses stop employing migrant workers, less of them will infiltrate the border in the future.

As of January 2011, a new government policy will allow police to fine businesses who employ migrant workers who served an asylum request to the government, as opposed to current policy wherein employers can employ the workers without being fined.

Fewer than 200 asylum seekers have reportedly been granted refugee status in Israel. In 2008, Israel recognized the asylum claim of just one refugee, and in 2009 only two.