Netanyahu Orders to Expedite Construction of Israel-Egypt Border Fence

Number of African migrants crossing Israeli-Egyptian border halves from May to June; some 4,000 places added to new detention facility for African migrants in country's south.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday instructed Defense Ministry officials to expedite the construction of a fence along the Israeli-Egyptian border, emphasizing the importance of curbing illegal immigration.

At a discussion held at the Prime Minister's Office on Sunday evening, Netanyahu said, "The goal is to turn the tables, and take all necessary actions to have the number of illegal immigrants that leave Israel be larger than the number entering Israel."

Defense Ministry officials said that conversations held last week with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva clarified that there is no possibility of sending Eritrean migrants back to their country, due to life-threatening dangers that await them there. The officials notified Netanyahu that not one of the countries hosting Eritrean refugees has sent them back to their countries of origin.

At the meeting, the Interior Ministry presented data on the number of migrants that crossed the Israeli-Egyptian border during June. According to those statistics, the number of migrants that crossed the border that month halved from 2,031 in May to 928 in June.

Officials at the Defense Ministry, which is responsible for constructing the fence along the Israeli-Egyptian border, said construction of the fence is progressing at an accelerated rate. According to the officials, the entire length of the barrier will be completed by October, except for 14 kilometers in the area near Eilat, which will be completed in 2013.

Also at Sunday's debate, Defense Ministry officials were told that some 4,000 places were added to a permanent detention center for African migrants currently under construction in Israel's south, and that by the end of 2012, the facility is expected to have the capacity to accommodate about 12,000 people.

Read this article in Hebrew.

Israel-Egypt border fence
Eliyahu Hershkovitz