Thursday, 28 October 2010

Israel to build security fence along Egypt border

Israel is to build a security fence along its border with Egypt, according to Israeli press reports. They quoted Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser as saying that the security committee of the cabinet has already given its approval. Work on the project, with costs ranging from US$285 million to US$ 375 million, is expected to start next month.

There is already an extensive security fence along the border but because of its length across the desert, there are few border patrols on either side. It is not clear if what is planned is a wall made of concrete T-sections like the one separating Palestinian from Jewish areas in the West Bank. The Israeli media said the barrier, fitted with modern security systems, is designed to prevent Islamic militants, drug dealers, African migrants and asylum seekers from entering Israel from Egypt. According to Israeli estimates, some 1,000 migrants, mainly Africans, cross the border illegally each year.

"The problem of illegal infiltrators in the south presents a threat to the Jewish and democratic character of Israel," Netanyahu was quoted as saying by Haaretz. "The urgency of this problem requires close and focused treatment."

On 24th October, the Egyptian authorities found 55 Sudanese, including nine women and six children, in a container as it was about to cross into the Sinai. It is believed they were seeking to enter Israel illegally.

There are reports that security is being tightened at the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel under the Suez Canal that links the Egyptian mainland with the Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt allowed up to 300 activists from the Viva Palestina aid convoy to cross into Gaza after arriving at the north Sinai port of El Arish.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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