PM Netanyahu says security fence has achieved primary objectives of stopping the flood of African migrants and defending Israel from Sinai terrorists.
“There has not been an engineering feat this large since the days of Herod,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on tour of the 4.7- meter-tall, 242-kilometer-long fence going up along the Egyptian border.
Netanyahu, who shepherded through the massive, 1.35 billion shekel project, said that the model will now be duplicated on the Golan Heights border with Syria, and later on the country’s eastern frontier.
Work on the five-meter high fence began in November 2010, and Netanyahu — who is touting the project as a major achievement of his current tenure has taken helicopter visits to various points along the border to gauge the pace of work being done ever since then. On Wednesday, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.- Gen Yair Naveh told him “mission accomplished.” Nevertheless, another 13 kilometers around Eilat still needs to be built, and when it is completed the long stretch of border from Kerem Shalom to Taba will be sealed.
Netanyahu said the fence had two primary objectives. The first was to stop the flood of African migrants into the country, which he said would — had it not been stemmed — posed a strategic threat to the country. At the height of efforts to infiltrate last January Netanyahu said, some 3,000 people were making their way across the border each month. That number dropped to 30 in December.
Just as Israel succeeded in stemming the influx of migrants, he said, it will also succeed in sending those already here back to their lands of origin. There are an estimated 50,000 African migrants here, some 40,000 of them from Eritrea and Sudan, countries to which Israel is unable to repatriate.
Netanyahu appointed former Mossad operatives Hagai Hadas to spearhead efforts to send the migrants back home. He did not, however, provide any details on how those efforts were proceeding, or which countries would be willing to take them in.
The fence’s second objective, Netanyahu said, was to defend from terrorist attacks originating from Sinai. Netanyahu, quoting the Southern Region commander, Tal Russo, briefed him at the fence said there has been a significant decline in attempted attacks from Sinai. The prime minister attributed that both to the fence and to Operation Pillar of Defense.
Netanyahu briefly met with a few members of Rimon unit, the lower part of their faces covered in masks, established a couple of years ago to patrol the southern border.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=298148