Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday ordered construction of a fence at a cost of NIS 1 billion along Israel's border with Egypt, to stem infiltration of migrants and terrorist elements into Israel.
"This is a strategic decision to secure Israel's Jewish and democratic character," Netanyahu said.
Israel would "remain open to refugees" from conflict zones, he said, but added: "We cannot let tens of thousands of illegal workers infiltrate and inundate our country with illegal aliens."
Two segments will be built in the first phase, one near Eilat and the other near the border with the Gaza Strip, and advanced surveillance equipment will also be set up to help border-control officers spot infiltrators. It will take two years to complete the planned barrier, but it is not due to be erected along the whole border.
Egyptian police stepped up efforts in recent months to control the frontier with Israel following an increase in human trafficking. Thousands of African and other migrants have entered Israel through its porous border with Egypt over the last few years. An estimated 17 migrants have been killed by Egyptian police since last May.
Egypt is also building an underground wall along its border with the Gaza Strip to stem Palestinian arms smuggling through tunnels.
The NIS 1 billion plan advanced by the Defense Ministry was favored over a NIS 2.2 billion scheme presented by the National Roads Company.
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