IDF detains 15 suspects crossing into Israel from Sinai
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IDF detains 15 suspects crossing into Israel from Sinai

Group taken to Saharonim prison in Negev, where illegal African migrants are held

An Israeli soldier standing along a section of newly built fence along the border, with the Sinai in the background. (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash 90)
An Israeli soldier standing along a section of newly built fence along the border, with the Sinai in the background. (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash 90)

The Israeli military said it detained 15 people who crossed over from the Sinai Peninsula into Israel Saturday evening.

The IDF would not confirm whether the persons in question were African migrants, but it did indicate that they were transferred to the Saharonim Prison in the Negev, a detention center used principally for illegal African migrant workers.

The suspects were apprehended in the Nitzana area in the south by an IDF patrol.

Some among the 15 were injured and were transferred to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for medical treatment.

The IDF said the cause of the injuries was not immediately clear, but gun fire was heard in the area earlier.

A month ago, the military beefed up its presence along the border with the Sinai Peninsula in the wake of a series of attacks by a group affiliated with Islamic State against Egyptian army positions in the northeastern Sinai.

The Nitzana border crossing is situated some 40 kilometers south along the border from the area where those attacks took place.

Tens of thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese have sought asylum in Israel over the past few years.

There are an estimated 50,000 African migrants currently in Israel, most of whom do not have official status.

A border fence equipped with sensors alerting on infiltration attempts was completed in 2012. The fence was built to stymie the stream of African migrants and to a lesser extent to stop smuggling of controlled substances from Sinai to Israel.

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