In de pers is er altijd veel aandacht voor de hekken en muren die Israel bouwt, en wat minder voor de oorzaken daarvan. Zo zijn er vanaf het begin van dit jaar al bijna 5000 mensen illegaal de grens tussen Egypte en Israel overgestoken. Dit zijn bijna allemaal mensen die in Israel willen werken, maar er kan ook iemand met minder onschuldige bedoelingen bijzitten. In augustus vorig jaar kwamen bij een aanslag in Eilat die vanuit de Sinai werd gepleegd acht Israeli’s om.
Infiltrations rising despite building of Egypt fence
African migrant workers are continuing to infiltrate Israel despite the ongoing construction of a hi-tech barrier along the border with Egypt, government officials said this week.
Since the beginning of the year, nearly 5,000 African migrant workers have crossed into the country illegally. In January, 2,171 workers crossed into Israel, followed by 1,303 in February – similar numbers to the last quarter of 2011. In total, 16,851 workers infiltrated the country last year.
The Defense Ministry and IDF have so far completed the construction of about 120 km. of the fence, and plan to complete an additional 100 km. by the end of the year. The fence, 5 meters high and layered with barbed wire, is supported by dozens of radars, which are deployed along the border to alert the army to potential infiltrations from kilometers away.
While Israel is trying to stem the flow of migrant workers into the country, it is primarily concerned with the possibility that terrorists will launch another attack along the border similar to the one in August that killed eight Israelis.
Last week, the Counterterrorism Bureau in the Prime Minister’s Office issued an urgent travel advisory warning Israelis to leave the Sinai Peninsula immediately. In addition, the IDF is constantly beefing up its forces along the border and recently transferred armored jeeps from the West Bank and the Northern Command to the border to be used by forces located there.
While Israel suspects that Palestinian terrorist groups are setting up operations in the Sinai, the local Beduin population, which is believed to be turning more radical, is doing a lot of the work. It was Beduin who carried out the attacks in August, for example, not Palestinians – who are, however, believed to have directed the effort by proxy.
This situation has posed a major challenge to Israeli intelligence agencies, which are encountering difficulty obtaining information on the Beduin clans that control the Sinai Peninsula.
As the IDF continues to close the border, though, predictions are that the number of illegal migrant workers coming in will drop and that terrorist infiltrations will become more difficult. The IDF fears that terrorists will then try to replicate the terrorist methods of organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and begin planting bombs along the border and firing rockets into Eilat.