"Infiltrators cause cultural, social and economic damage, and pull us towards the Third World," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said at a Manufacturers Association assembly.
"We suffer from a problem that actually stems from Israel's economic success," he said, explaining the problems that arise from the breached border with Egypt.
"We have become almost the only First World country that can be reached by foot from the Third World. We are flooded with surge of refugees who threaten to wash away our achievements and damage our existence as a Jewish democratic state."
He went on to say, "Anyone walking around Arad, Eilat, or even south Tel Aviv today, can see this wave, and the change it is creating, with their own eyes. They are causing socio-economic and cultural damage and threaten to take us back down to the level of the Third World. They take the jobs of the weakest Israelis."
Netanyahu noted that the government plans to work to construct a physical barrier
and Egypt to prevent this "flood" of migrants.
Addressing the members of the Manufacturers Association, he said, "You will not like this, but we plan to legislate strict laws and enforce them with a firm hand against the illegal employment of infiltrators and foreign workers."
The Hotline for Migrant Workers was enraged by the prime minister's remarks, and issued a response saying: "The danger to the Jewish state is not the refugees, but the many Jews in key positions who have forgotten that their parents were refugees, and who besmirch the persecuted in order to whitewash their submission to the manpower corporations."
As first reported on Ynet, the prime minister made similar statements in the session in which it was decided to build a stronger barrier at the Egypt border.
"This is a strategic decision, that will ensure the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel," he said at the time, while promising that, "Israel will remain open to war refugees, but will not allow its borders to be used to flood it will illegal foreign workers."
The prime minister has been extensively addressing the problem of the breached border in recent weeks. A number of plans to properly close the border to infiltrators have been raised in the past, but have not been executed, mainly due to budgetary reasons.
Besides the construction of the fence, the defense minister was tasked with pushing a bill calling for harsher penalties for Israelis who transport and accommodate illegal immigrants.
This bill, which calls for aggravating the sentence of offenders from two years to a minimum of three years imprisonment and heavy fines, is already in legislation phases.
Yael Branovsky contributed to this report