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Netanyahu to reinforce Egypt border with barricade, surveillance

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday announced plans to build a barrier along the border with Egypt and install advanced surveillance equipment to keep out illegal migrants, militants and terrorists.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved plans on Sunday to erect a barrier along part of Israel’s border with Egypt and install advanced surveillance equipment to keep out illegal migrants and militants. The project will cost one billion shekels (186 million euros) and will take two years to complete.

The planned fence is to lie on the Israeli side of its southern border abutting Egypt
The planned fence is to lie on the Israeli side of its southern border abutting Egypt

“I took the decision to close Israel’s southern border to infiltrators and terrorists. This is a strategic decision to secure Israel’s Jewish and democratic character,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Some regional experts, like FRANCE 24’s Jerusalem correspondent Annette Young, take Netanyahu’s claim at face value. Said Young, “In many cases [the current border] is nothing but barbed wire. It’s a very porous border and it’s been a sore point between Egyptians and Israelis.”

Egyptian police have stepped up efforts in recent months to control the border with Israel following an increase in human trafficking through Egypt. At least 17 migrants have been killed by Egyptian police since May.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander

Some are sceptical, however, that either illegal immigrants or terrorists are what is motivating Netanyahu to make the bizarre move of building a wall between two sovereign nations that are not at war.

“It is surely a pretext,” said Gauthier Rybinski, FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor. “It’s a message to the world that what Egypt has the right to do, Israel also has the right to do.”

Rybinski refers to an underground barrier that Egypt is building along its border with the Gaza Strip to stem Palestinian arms smuggling through tunnels. “Netanyahu is taking advantage of the Egyptian metallic underground barriers to do the same, knowing that he cannot be criticised if Egypt is doing it too.”

Egyptian security sources in North Sinai told Reuters that Israel had not informed the Egyptian authorities of its plan.

One Egyptian security source said, also to Reuters, that the project was an internal Israeli matter “which Egypt has nothing to do with as long as the fence is built on Israeli soil”.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Husam Zaki said the ministry would issue a statement on the plan on Monday.

The barrier will not be erected along the whole border, which is 266 km (166 miles) long.

Israel is also building a controversial barrier in and around the occupied West Bank. It says the razor-tipped fences and towering concrete walls are needed to stop suicide bombers from infiltrating its cities. Palestinians call it a land grab.
 

 

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