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Israel completes bulk of Egypt border fence
Published Wednesday 02/01/2013 (updated) 03/01/2013 19:54
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An Israeli checkpoint is seen from the Egyptian side on the Israeli-
Egyptian border in the northern Sinai (Reuters/Asmaa Waguih, File)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israel completed the main segment of a razor-wire fence along its border with Egypt on Wednesday, a barrier against illegal migrants and Islamist militants hiding out in the lawless Sinai region.

The five-meter high fence, bolstered by military surveillance equipment, is touted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as proof of his commitment to Israel's security as he campaigns for a national election on Jan. 22.

Once the final 14 kilometer section is completed within three months, the fence will stretch from Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat to the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean.

In the desert beyond, hardline Islamist groups have expanded in a security vacuum caused by the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Islamist gunmen killed at least 16 Egyptian border guards in Sinai last August and hijacked an armored vehicle which they smashed across the frontier before they were killed by Israeli forces.

With security and illegal immigration a target of his campaign, Netanyahu traveled by military helicopter to the southern frontier for a ceremony marking the completion of the 230 km section of fence.

His government has accelerated its construction, deported some migrants and imposed legal penalties on Israelis who hire them without work permits.

Thirty-six migrants crossed illegally into Israel last month and were arrested, compared with 2,153 who entered a year ago, Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

"Just as we stopped completely the infiltration into Israeli cities, we will succeed in the next mission - the repatriation of tens of thousands of infiltrators already in Israel to their home countries," it cited Netanyahu as saying at the ceremony.

More than 60,000 Africans have entered Israel on foot in recent years seeking work or refuge. They have stirred fears for public order and some have come under racially-motivated attack.

The bulk are from Sudan or Eritrea and Israel's ability to repatriate them is limited. Sudan's government is hostile to Israel and Somalia is deemed a ravaged danger zone.

Israel portrays the vast majority of the migrants as illegal job-seekers. Humanitarian agencies say they should be considered for asylum.
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1 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
02/01/2013 23:41
Just curious if there is a single Arab country where migrants go to seek asylum.

2 ) Robert Haymond / Israel--Gush Etzion
03/01/2013 02:02
The best I can come up with, Brian, is Syrians trying trying desperately to get out of Syria even to get into Lebanon. Your point is made, however.

3 ) Bemused / New Zealand
03/01/2013 02:24
Just curious as to why Israel builds prison walls around itself, if it values freedom so highly...oh, now I remember - to keep out the rightful owners.

4 ) VERY EFFICIENT WALL / INFILTRATION DROPPED
03/01/2013 08:46
FROM 2500 TO 36 A MONTH

5 ) AKeenReader / UK
03/01/2013 11:01
Another fence for the Israelis. Soon they will be asked to remain within its internationally recognised borders like slaves. lol

6 ) Robert Haymond / Israel-Gush Etzion
03/01/2013 16:32
We don't feel like slaves. We feel more secure. The walls keep out Jew hating (Islamic) terrorists (are there any other kind).

7 ) carine / UK
05/01/2013 04:51
#2 - Sneering at the plight of men, women and children escaping from certain death - you're all heart, R H... #6 - "(are there any other kind)". Yes, foreign Jewish squatters, also known as settlers. Going back a bit - Irgun, Haganah and Stern Gang - first known terrorists in the Middle East - all Jewish, whose leaders became Israeli Prime Ministers and top brass in Israeli Occupation Forces.
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