Border Police officers on Wednesday intercepted 120 Palestinians hiding in a ditch as they prepared to cross into Israel by slipping past security checkpoints.
After receiving an alert that Palestinians were planning to breach the security barrier near the Oranit settlement, in the northern West Bank, border police searched the area together with IDF troops and stopped the suspects before they managed to cross.
The Palestinians were detained for questioning and several were found to have a history of security-related and criminal offenses, police said.
Superintendent Meytal Koniv, commander of the unit that intercepted the Palestinians, said that following the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan, security forces expected a surge in the number of Palestinians trying to enter Israel illegally to find work.
“When the festival ended, we prepared the forces for an eventuality like this, since most of them [the Palestinians] want to join the workforce inside Israel,” she said. “We attribute the utmost importance to the campaign against illegal aliens, as the understanding is that this offense includes dangers that are both criminal- and security-related.”
In a statement, the Border Police said the illegal entry of Palestinians into Israel carried inherent security risks.
“The Israel Police and IDF work together next to the security barrier and the seam line [with the West Bank] in order to prevent the entry of illegal aliens who cross without security checks into Israeli territory,” the statement said. “The recent security incidents in which illegal aliens were involved in terrorism are an example of the importance of these activities.”
Last week, a teenage Palestinian girl stabbed an Israeli soldier outside the Israeli settlement of Nahliel in the West Bank. The soldier, 20, was moderately wounded with stab wounds to his back.
There has been a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem and the West Bank recently. Two men were killed in separate West Bank shootings, and two people were wounded in stabbing attacks, including a female military police officer seriously hurt after being stabbed in the neck by a Palestinian woman.
Although tens of thousands of Palestinians have permits granting them entry for work into Israel every day, many thousands more try to cross illegally to find employment.