Dichter. Complicated
Photo: Gil Yohanan
African infiltrators on Israel-Egypt border
Photo: AP

Dichter: 7,400 African refugees infiltrated Israel in past year

In special discussion held at Prime Minister's Office, internal security minister says IDF unsuccessful in blocking wave of infiltrators, calls for Egyptian help. Defense Minister Barak demands Israel speed up construction of fence on Egypt border

More than 7,400 refugees from African countries have infiltrated Israel through Egypt over the past year, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter estimated Sunday during a special discussion initiated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.


During the discussion, it was decided to make a distinction between refugees in need of aid and infiltrators arriving in Israel to look for work, and to ask the Egyptian security forces for help in blocking the wave of infiltrators.


According to Dichter, the IDF is unsuccessful in preventing the refugees from entering Israel, but there is need to make sure that each refugee discovered is returned to Egypt immediately.


"When such a large number of refugees enters Israel, all systems are forced to deal with them inside the country," Dichter claimed.


According to the minister, the State's alternatives are either imprisonment or expulsion. However, the deportation of foreign nationals is complex, as a refugee cannot be put on a plane back to his homeland without a passport.


"The solution must be that we will arrest them on the border with Egypt and return them immediately. If we fail to deal with them on the border, immediately after them enter, it will be complicated."


The discussion was also attended by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, Social Affairs Minister Issac Herzog, Foreign Ministry and Social Affairs Ministry representatives, and Health Minister Yacov Ben-Yizri.


Barak: 'Smart fence' needed

At the end of the meeting it was decided to reinforce the team examining the refugees' situation and distinguishing between refugees and infiltrators who arrive in Israel looking for work.


Defense Minister Barak said during the discussion that the construction of the fence on the Egyptian border must be accelerated, and called on the Finance Ministry to transfer the budget needed for the construction of a "smart fence".


According to Barak, the defense establishment has completed the formation of the plans for a fence in the Nitzana and Eilat area.


During the discussion it was made clear, however, that the technique or returning the infiltrators to Egypt as they enter Israel was not functioning properly, and that the Egyptian security forces should become involved in the matter in order to assist Israel in stopping the refugees from infiltrating the Jewish state from their territory.


Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also addressed the infiltration issue, claiming the Israel must make sure to enforce the procedures in order to stop the phenomenon.


"The infiltrators must be dealt with highhandedly and be expelled in a swift procedure," she said.


At the end of the discussion, the prime minister instructed the Interior Ministry, Internal Security Ministry and the Immigration Administration to work to send away illegal infiltrators who entered Israel from Egypt by the coming weekend.


פרסום ראשון: 02.24.08, 14:54
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