January 26, 2010

Israel’s plan to stem African immigration: Wall on Egypt’s border

Israel says the wall, a $270 million project unveiled Sunday aimed at stemming immigration from Africa, will ensure its Jewish and democratic character.

On Sunday, Israel announced it would build a wall along its southern border with Egypt in a move to secure an area through which thousands of African asylum seekers cross illegally each year.

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Map: Israel's border with Egypt
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''This is a strategic decision to ensure the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel,'' said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement. ''Israel will remain open to war refugees but we cannot allow thousands of illegal workers to infiltrate into Israel via the southern border and flood our country.”

The construction of two walls – one beginning in Rafah and the other near Israel’s resort town of Eilat – is expected to take two years and will cost an estimated $270 million. Although a start date for building has yet to be announced, the barriers are expected to put a stop to what has become a thorny issue for Israel, namely what to do with thousands of Africans streaming in each year with hopes of finding a better life.

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