Israel raises height of fence on Egypt border
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Israel raises height of fence on Egypt border

Barrier and other measures slash rate of illegal migration; only 11 successful attempts to cross the fence in 2016

A section of the  border fence between Israel and Egypt, January 2012. (Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)
A section of the border fence between Israel and Egypt, January 2012. (Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

Israel said Tuesday it has finished raising the height of an electronic fence along part of its border with Egypt to shut down irregular migration routes.

The 242 kilometre (250 mile) barrier, stretching from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat, was completed in 2014.

The Israeli government hoped it would tackle illegal migration, drug and weapons trafficking and infiltration by terrorists.

It slashed the number of African migrants arriving in Israel, which had been running at a rate of hundreds every month, though at least 213 still managed to breach the fence in 2015, the Defense Ministry said.

That prompted authorities to raise its height from five to eight metres (15 to 25 feet) along a 17-kilometre (10-mile) stretch, it said.

That, plus additional detection devices, had “significantly curbed the flow of illegal infiltration into Israel, with only 11 successful attempts to cross the fence throughout 2016,” it said.

The United Nations says Israel hosts 53,000 refugees and asylum seekers including 36,000 Eritreans and 14,000 Sudanese.

Most reached the country via Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Israel rarely grants them refugee status.

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