Israel erects high tech barrier to fight African migrants


 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday told his Cabinet that improved security deployment and a new high-tech barrier along the Egyptian border had succeeded in ending illegal entry by Africans seeking work or asylum in Israel.

“In the last month, only 54 infiltrators crossed the border and all — without exception — were taken into custody,” Mr Netanyahu said in statements sent to Xinhua.

“That means that none of them made it to Israeli cities,” he said, noting that “I remind you that only half a year ago, every month more than 1,000 came in, and that number was rising.

“Israel Defence Forces’ (IDF) upgraded patrols and the erection of the 240-Kilometre-long barrier is intended not only to keep illegal migrants off Israeli turf, but also plays an important role in preventing attacks by militant cells.

Last month, the army said that it plans to deploy new security measures along the border with Egypt in light of looming terror threats from the Sinai Peninsula.

The new hi-tech gear and infrastructure improvements are focused along a 40 Kilometre “Dunes” sector of the 240 Kilometre long border fence, the IDF Spokesperson told Xinhua in October.

Due to its extreme topography, the open sandy area is particularly vulnerable to infiltrations and has served in the past as a corridor for militants to reach Israeli territory, the army said.

The beefed-up security is to include a fence-mounted vibration sensor array which signals operators where an infiltration is taking place.

The system is also deployed on Israel’s borders with the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria.

Dozens of attacks

The IDF is also planning to relocate current Dune sector outposts further away from the border in hopes of minimising the potential for clashes between the soldiers and militants.

Meanwhile, social networks in Israel bustled on Sunday over a video clip capturing a violent attack of a Sudanese migrant in south Tel Aviv by two unidentified men.

The six minute-long video on YouTube shows assailants repeatedly beat up the 22-year-old Yahya al-Katal before fleeing the scene.

Mr Ibtiasm Mara’ana, an Arab filmmaker who lives next to the scene of the attack and witnessed the incident, told Xinhua the two attackers “kept hitting him and beating him until he lost consciousness”.

There have been dozens of attacks against migrants in the past few months amid protests calling for their expulsion.

Thousands of Israelis, mainly residents of poor and neglected neighbourhoods which are mainly populated by the African migrants, put the blame on them for the rising crime rate.

However, a 2010 report by the Israeli Knesset (parliament) research Centre showed that out of 230,032 cases of violence recorded by the police that year, only 326 were attributed to African migrants.

Israeli Interior minister Eli Yishai announced in May the “Going Home” repatriation operation to expel many of the 60,000 asylum-seekers back to South Sudan and Eritrea.

Since then, nearly 2,000 South Sudanese asylum-seekers have been returned.

In August, Mr Yishai claimed that Israel will imprison 15,000 illegal migrants starting from October 15, which was denounced by the State Attorney’s Office in late October.

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