JERUSALEM (JTA) — The main section of Israel’s border fence with Egypt, meant to keep infiltrators from entering the country, has been completed.
The nearly 150-mile stretch of fence took two years to construct at a cost of about $430 million, the Israeli Defense Ministry said. The final nearly 12-mile section of the border fence in the mountainous region near Eilat will be completed by May.
The border includes electronic surveillance equipment such as cameras and radar.
The Israeli government ordered the construction of the fence in July 2010 to stop thousands of illegal migrants from crossing into the country each year, as well as to halt the smuggling of drugs and weapons and terror attacks.
More than 10,000 infiltrators entered Israel during 2012, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement released this week. Some 3,920 infiltrators from Africa left Israel in 2012. In addition, all infiltrators who entered Israel since June were sent directly to holding facilities and not to Israeli cities, according to the statement.
"For seven months, not one infiltrator has reached Israel’s cities," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday during a ceremony at the fence to mark its completion. "Just as we have stopped infiltration into Israel’s cities, so too will we succeed in the next mission — repatriating the tens of thousands of infiltrators in Israel to their countries of origin. We have already begun to do so."
He added, "We also need to complete the work on the country’s other borders."