Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the electronic barrier placed at the Israeli-Egyptian border had saved Israel from jihadist attacks, describing the massive arrival of illegal African migrants as a “worst” threat than that of terrorists in the Sinai peninsula.
At a conference to discuss the development of Israel’s southern region, Netanyahu said “without this barrier, we would face serious terrorist attacks from Sinai and, worse, a massive influx of illegal African migrants.”
According to the Israeli Interior ministry, 42,000 African migrants live in Israel, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea.
Without this barrier, we would face serious terrorist attacks from Sinai and, worse, a massive influx of illegal African migrants.
The vast majority arrived after 2007 by infiltrating from Egyptian Sinai, where the border with Israel was porous at the time.
A controversial government plan foresees the imminent expulsion of thousands of African migrants who have entered the country illegally.
“We talk about a Jewish and democratic state but how can we ensure that it remains Jewish with 50,000 or 100,000 migrants per year?“Netanyahu asked.
He added “one million, one and a half million and you can close the barracks,” welcoming the fact that “instead of closing the barracks, a barrier has been installed.”
In 2010, the Israeli government approved the construction of the electronic barrier between Egypt and Israel to block illegal immigration, drug and arms trafficking and “terrorist infiltration”.
The barrier, which was completed in 2014, extends along the 242 km border between Israel and Egypt from the southern tip of the Gaza Strip to the city of Eilat.
On 9 February, the Egyptian armed forces launched an extensive anti-Jihadist campaign particularly focusing on the Sinai peninsula where the Islamic State group was very active.