Since the completion of the western part of the fence, on the Egyptian border, African infiltrators have been forced to detour south to find an ingress – sometimes through dangerous mountain terrain that stretches for 14 kilometers and is marked by canyons and cliffs up to 170 meters high.
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A senior official in the Defense Ministry told Ynet that today, would-be infiltrators aim at two main locations when attempting to slip over the border into Israel: the area surrounding Eilat and the sand dunes at the northern part of the border near Kerem Shalom. The border fence is underway in both those places.
Work goes on from 5am to 8pm. (Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
"Half of the refugees cross through the mountains – dozens each night," the ministry source said. "These are very difficult conditions, and it was difficult to find a model (for fencing them) anywhere in the world."
"No country has ever erected a border in these kinds of mountains," the source observed.
Working in rough terrain
To expedite the fence project in the Eilat Mountains, two new contractors will begin work this week. According to the Defense Ministry, the border fence around Eilat and around the sand dunes is slated to be completed by December.
"We work from 5 in the morning until 8 pm. 150 kilometers out of 220 kilometers have been finished – a rate of 15-20 kilometers a month."
The border fence in the Eilat Mountains is budgeted at NIS 280 million ($73 million) – four times the cost of other parts of the fence. The cost of the entire border fence totals NIS 1.5 billion ($391 million).
Work is being conducted in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and has included one controlled explosion to clear a route. Other detonations, the Defense Ministry official said, would be carried out only as needed.
In addition, the project will entail construction of stairs in certain areas to allow movement by soldiers.
Next week, the ministry plans to publish a tender for the construction of a detention center to hold infiltrators. The center is to be built near the Ketziot Prison in the Negev, and is planned to accommodate 3,000 infiltrators at a time until the courts decide whether they will be permitted to stay.