[QODLink]
Middle East

Israel completes key part of fence with Egypt

Israel says barrier stretching from Red Sea port of Eilat to Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean will stop "infiltrators".
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2013 19:56
Israel ruled out entry in September for 20 Africans via Egypt [Reuters]

Israel has completed the main segment of a razor-wire fence along its border with Egypt.

The five-metre high fence, bolstered by military surveillance equipment, is touted by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as proof of his commitment to Israel's security as he campaigns for a national election on January 22.

Israel says the barrier has been built to deter illegal migrants and Islamist fighters hiding out in Egypt's lawless Sinai region.

The final 14km section will be completed within the next three months, leaving the fence stretching from Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat to the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean.

In the desert beyond, hardline Islamist groups have expanded in a security vacuum caused by the overthrow of Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, with efforts to re-impose central authority proving slow.

Gunmen killed at least 16 Egyptian border guards in Sinai last August, hijacking an armoured vehicle which they smashed across the frontier before they were killed by Israeli forces.

With security and illegal immigration a target of his campaign, Netanyahu travelled by military helicopter to the southern frontier for a ceremony on Wednesday marking the completion of the 230km section of fence.

Netanyahu's government has accelerated its construction, deported some migrants and imposed legal penalties on Israelis who hire them without work permits.

'Repatriation'

Thirty-six migrants crossed illegally into Israel last month and were arrested, compared with 2,153 who entered a year ago, Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

"Just as we stopped completely the infiltration into Israeli cities, we will succeed in the next mission - the repatriation of tens of thousands of infiltrators already in Israel to their home countries," it cited Netanyahu as saying at the ceremony.

More than 60,000 Africans have entered Israel on foot in recent years seeking work or refuge.

They have stirred fears for public order and some have come under racially-motivated attack.

The bulk are from Sudan or Eritrea and Israel's ability to repatriate them is limited. Sudan's government is hostile to Israel and Somalia is deemed a ravaged danger zone by refugee advocates. 

Israel portrays the vast majority of the migrants as illegal job-seekers. Humanitarian agencies say many of them should be considered for asylum.

358

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.