Israel to build barrier along Egypt border
Jerusalem: The Israeli government on Sunday approved the construction of a barrier along the border with Egypt in a bid to curb the infiltration of illegal immigrants, a government official said.
A government committee approved the construction of three barriers along the 250-kilometre desert frontier that would block the main infiltration routes, the official said.
The project, which was put forward by the military, was expected to cost between USD 1 billion and USD 1.5 billion, he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the meeting that the Jewish state would continue to allow entry for asylum seekers, most of whom come from Darfur.
"Israel will allow entry to refugees from areas of conflict, but will not allow its borders to be used to flood the country with illegal workers," a senior official quoted Netanyahu as saying during a cabinet meeting.
The Israel-Egypt border has become a major transit route for migrants, asylum seekers and drug smugglers, and Israel has asked Egypt to clamp down on the traffic.
Israel has struggled to put a lid on the influx of human traffic.
According to the Interior Ministry, some 300,000 illegal aliens -- including 100,000 migrants, tourists who overstayed their visit and Palestinians -- live in Israel which is home to seven million people.
But human rights groups say that these figures are inflated.
Egypt's policy of shooting migrants has generated harsh criticism from human rights groups. The migrants say they try to leave Egypt because of poverty and racism.