Netanyahu: Egypt border fence halted flow of migrants

Prime minister says the nearly finished barrier is essential to prevention of terror attacks from lawless Sinai

A new fence is being built between Israel and Egypt (photo credit: Yuval Nadal/Flash90)
A new fence is being built between Israel and Egypt (photo credit: Yuval Nadal/Flash90)

Israel’s new security fence along the Israel-Egypt border has stemmed the tide of illegal immigration to Israel and has been protecting Israel from terrorists operating in the Sinai Peninsula, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

“The fence that we built is making a significant contribution to blocking illegal migration to Israel,” Netanyahu said ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, noting that the fence has blocked 99 percent of African migrants from reaching Israel.

The border fence has taken several years to construct, at an estimated cost of NIS 1.4 billion ($377 million).

“In practice, nobody has entered and the few who have arrived did not reach Israel’s cities,” he continued. “The fence has completely stopped illegal migration to Israel, but it also has an additional function — namely counterterrorism.”

Every day that passes “underscores how correct and how important the decision was to build the fence in the south,” the prime minister said. “You must remember that this fence is equipped with very advanced means… to protect the State of Israel against the double threat of illegal migration and terrorism from Sinai.”

The fence, which is yet to be fully completed, was originally planned just as a barrier to keep out migrants, but was upgraded to include motion sensors, cameras and heightened security after multiple cross-border incidents that occurred in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, which resulted in a drastic decline in law and order in the Sinai.

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