IDF Chief: Southern Border Fence Won't End Illegal Immigration

Gabi Ashkenazi calls on legislators to pass law making it easier to deport illegal immigrants; 13,350 illegal immigrants crossed Egypt border into Israel this year.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi called on legislators on Tuesday to pass a law making it easier to deport illegal immigrants.

He said the Israel Defense Forces would not be able to capture all the immigrants and that Israel should not rely on a southern border fence to resolve the issue.

"The fence will be a better obstacle but will not completely prevent infiltration into Israel," Ashkenazi said.

Construction recently began on a fence along Israel's border with Egypt in an effort to keep out the illegal immigrants - 13,350 of whom crossed that border into Israel this year, the IDF chief said.

"In December there was a limited drop in the number of infiltrators, apparently because of changes in the domestic situation in Sudan," he told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "Sudan may break off into north and south in light of the civil war there, which will decrease the number of infiltrators."

Ashkenazi said the army was using non-lethal means, such as those used to disperse demonstrations, to confront illegal immigrants. The army recently began using drones, night-vision goggles and all-terrain vehicles to help locate the migrants, he added.

There is no reason to fear that soldiers might open fire on the migrants, Ashkenazi said.

"The routine rules of engagement don't apply to them," he said. "I know my soldiers. They won't open fire on refugees."