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Tuesday, November 23, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israel erecting border barrier to stop infiltration, massive immigration from Egypt

JERUSALEM — Israel is constructing a barrier along the border with Egypt.


The Defense Ministry ordered construction crews to establish a fence and barrier along the 200-kilometer border with Egypt. They said the first phase of the project, delayed for years, would cost $47 million and be completed by 2012, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The Defense Ministry will work towards reducing the timetables for completing the fence," Defense Ministry director-general Udi Shani said.

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The project would be overseen by the military, which has been conducting a pilot program to determine security requirements. Officials said a key problem would be the construction of a barrier on shifting sands with high winds.

Officials said the entire barrier would cost 1.35 billion shekel, or $371 million, and was designed to stop massive infiltration from neighboring Egypt. They said tens of thousands of Sudanese migrants have been flowing into Israel, particularly in the south.

In the second stage, the Defense Ministry would equip the barrier with sensors and cameras. Officials said the Israeli military would also employ aerial reconnaissance along the border, including unmanned aerial vehicles and aerostats.

"The construction, beginning only a few months after the governmental decision, was made possible due to quick planning and bidding," Shani said.

The Interior Ministry has been lobbying the government to construct a prison for illegal migrants. The ministry said 1,100 infiltrators per month were entering southern Israel from Egypt. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also sought to build border barriers in the desert.

"The building project will start by focusing on a few select points along the border, with the aid of many engineering instruments, which will prepare the land for construction," the Israeli military said.

The military said the fence would span 240 kilometers from Keren Shalom in the north until Taba in the south. Parts of the border would comprise only a physical barrier, while others would also contain sensors.

"Due to the difficult terrain in the area, which includes quicksand, strong winds and extreme weather, the [military's] Technological and Logistics Directorate will be aided by geology experts from Israel and overseas," the military said on Nov. 22. "Given that so far a complex construction project has yet to be built on the shifting sands of Israel, the IDF construction center has tested various alternatives from all over of the world with the help of industry and security experts."

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