The comments came during a discussion of the Knesset State Committee held on Tuesday during which the chief of staff said, “between 50 and 60,000 illegals enter Israel each day. Among those in possession of legal permits there were no terrorists in the latest wave of terror and I don’t think there were any even in the last decade.”
Among all the MKs who are committee members, only two arrived to the special discussion - Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) and MK Meirav Ben-Ari (Kulanu).
“We are undertaking great efforts to close the breaches (through which they enter -ed.),” Eisenkot continued. “But there is still 100 kilometers without a security fence. The two missing parts have been budgeted at 260 million shekels for Tarqumiyah (near Hebron) and Jerusalem. The work has already started there but gaps still remain in the Battir area and Gush Etzion."
"We must create a balance between the needs of the economy and the Palestinians and security requirements. On the Israel-Lebanon border 14 infiltrators were caught over the last few years and that is an example of an area where we need to improve the process of acquiring work permits and easing the crossing. On the other hand, we also need to increase the punishment against those who employ the illegal aliens, those who provide them with lodging places and those who transport them.”
Deputy Police Chief Zohar Dvir pointed out during the special session that the police operates each years to reduce the phenomenon, to arrest and bring to trial illegals who may carry out property and violent crimes in addition to terrorist activities.
According to Dvir, in 2015 4,300 arrests were made against people in Israel illegally and cited an increase in the number of indictments issued against business owners employing them. He also pointed out the deficiencies in light punishments, stating that in just 75% of criminal cases against those transporting the illegals prison sentences were handed down. In 83% of cases, he said, they received financial penalties lower than 5,000 shekels.
State Committee representative, Brig. Gen. Yossi Beinhoren (res.) added that six years ago a number of deficiencies were discovered that have yet to be resolved. According to Lt. Col. Nir Yashiah , head of the Operations Directorate, in many villages collections points for infiltrators still operate which takes them up to the fence and allow the aliens to cross into Israel with relative ease
Moreover, he said that people keep a lookout to ensure that no security personnel are present to prevent the movement of the illegals.
“Our evaluations show that in 2016,1,600 indictments were issued. In addition, we confiscated the vehicles used to transport the illegals. Despite the fact that the punishment for illegal entry into Israel is between one and five years in prison, according to the policy of Supreme Court Justice Salim Jubran, the punishment for the illegal will only be five months. In practice, most of the illegals are punished with just days,” he complained.
Col. Sharon Bitton, head of the Operations Department for Coordination of Government Activities, described the procedure for obtaining a work permit. The criterion, he said, was to be 22 years old, married and with no security or criminal background.
“A work permit holder crosses a specific crossing at certain hours, without lodging places in the workplace except in exceptional circumstances. There are also procedures for obtaining permits for employers. In 2015, 1,693,670 crossing permits were issued of which 800,000 are still valid today,” said Bitton.
Committee Chairwoman MK Elharar emphasized that without an approved and defined budget for the completion of the security fence there is still no real war being waged to eradicate the phenomenon.
“The wave of terror that plagued us was often because of illegals. While it is true that in March 44% of the attackers in the Green Line were illegals, in many instances the illegals come in because they have no other way of working and the procedure for receiving work permits is difficult and complicated.” She warned that failure to enforce the law against employers is another catalyst for the illegal alien phenomenon.