EILAT, Israel – Israel is regarded as a global leader in the fight against Islamic terrorism. Less well known is that the Jewish state has over the years contended with a major issue of regional migrants entering the country illegally and has successfully halted this infiltration to the point where not a single illegal entered in 2017, according to Israeli government statistics.
“Every country has an obligation to protect its borders,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared last week while announcing new steps to deport illegal migrants currently residing in Israel. “Protecting the borders from illegal infiltration is both the right and the fundamental obligation of a sovereign country.”
Here are Israel’s five primary methods of fighting illegal immigration.
1 – Build a barrier.
While most people are familiar with Israel’s West Bank security barrier, constructed to thwart terrorist infiltration, less well known is that Israel in 2013 completed a barrier that runs the length of the vast Israel-Egypt border to stem the flow of illegal African migrants entering the country. Upon completion of the barrier, the numbers of illegals crossing into the Jewish state slowed to a trickle and entirely stopped this past year.
From 2007-2012, about 61,000 illegals were able to infiltrate Israel, with most originating from Africa. The first half of 2012 saw 9,570 illegals enter Israel, but that number was slashed to only 34 the first six months after most of the barrier was constructed. 2015 brought with it 213 border breaches, prompting Israel to raise the height of the fence from 5 to 8 meters along a vulnerable stretch of the barrier. Israel’s Defense Ministry documented only 11 successful infiltration attempts in 2016. Israel says that not a single illegal migrant successfully infiltrated in 2017.
The Egypt-Israel barrier consists of warning systems, an electronic “smart” fence and information collection centers. Critically, Israel’s borders are patrolled by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The West Bank barrier is another successful model. Israel began construction of it in 2002 at the height of the second Palestinian intifada, or terrorist war of shootings and suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians. That intifada was launched after PLO leader Yasser Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state during U.S.-mediated negotiations in the summer of 2000.
Upon the completion of a significant continuous section of the security fence in 2003 and the implementation of security checkpoints, Israel saw a marked decrease in the number of suicide bombers able to penetrate Israeli cities.
About 95% of the barrier consists of a chain-link fence backed up by high-tech surveillance systems and IDF patrols and not the concrete barrier routinely shown by the news media. The concrete barriers are usually only located in areas where the wall intersects with Israeli communities and roads, including areas of previous Palestinian shooting attacks.
2 – Forcibly deport illegal immigrants.
The infiltration of illegal aliens brought with it rises in crime rates and impacted the security of Israeli cities, especially south Tel Aviv, where many residents complain of no longer feeling safe. According to UN statistics from 2013, some 77% of the Africans that infiltrated Israel are males between the ages of 18 and 35. Very few of the infiltrators are refugees fleeing persecution. Most are economic migrants looking for work. The illegal migrants were also opposed by Palestinians since they provided cheap labor and competed with Palestinians for some jobs.
Over the past year, 4,012 illegals voluntarily left Israel after security forces here started to step up deportation efforts. Last week, the Knesset approved the Infiltrator’s Bill, which allows the country to forcibly deport illegal infiltrators, with exceptions for children, the elderly, parents of dependent minors, those with refugee applications pending and victims of slavery or human trafficking.
3 – Provide incentives for illegals to leave on their own.
Israel has given notice to all illegals that they have 90 days to vacate. If the illegal migrants go willingly during that time period, they will be provided $3,500 and can depart to their home countries or to third countries. After the 90 day grace period, Israel has warned that illegals will be imprisoned or deported.
4 – Cut off all government funds.
Israel’s Knesset last month also advanced a bill to close the country’s Holot detention facility, where the Israeli government currently pays for food and housing for illegal infiltrators.
5 – Crack down on employers who hire illegals.
Besides current law violations, the Knesset has also advanced legislation to further sanction employers who hire illegal migrants.