(21 Jan 2010)
1. Wide of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and military officials surveying Israel”s border with Egypt
2. Various of army officer briefing Netanyahu
3. SOUNDBITE (Hebrew) Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister:
“We will close this border, it is possible and it is about to happen.”
4. Pan from Netanyahu at observation point to wide of border area
5. SOUNDBITE (Hebrew) Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister:
“There is a danger here of a very significant rise in the number of infiltrators into the state of Israel – illegal workers and other aspects – and that must be stopped. I got the impression here that there are different solutions for different parts of the border. These solutions are all within reach and they require us to set our priorities and we are doing that. We will decide to fund and to take action to create a border fence on the border of Israel and Egypt.”
6. Wide of Netanyahu at observation point
7. Various of Netanyahu looking at border through binoculars
8. Wide of Netanyahu watching demonstration by Israeli soldiers stationed at border underground post, zoom in to Netanyahu talking to soldier
9. Close-up of Netanyahu in helicopter, looking at map
10. Netanyahu in helicopter
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he would ask his cabinet to move ahead on a planned border fence along part of Israel”s 150-mile (250-kilometre) frontier with Egypt meant to prevent the entry of illegal migrants.
Netanyahu, who toured part of the Egyptian border area on Thursday, said migrants were changing Israel”s “Jewish and democratic character.”
“We will close this border, it is possible and it is about to happen,” he said.
Netanyahu said “there is a danger here of a very significant rise” in the number of migrants entering Israel across the open border, “and that must be stopped.”
The proposed fence would cost 400 (m) million US dollars, according to local media reports.
The structure would come in addition to a massive fence surrounding the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, as well as a separation barrier that snakes along parts of Israel”s more than 400-mile (680-kilometre) frontier with the West Bank, biting into chunks of the territory as it runs.
Egypt has its own fence along Gaza”s southern border, and is reinforcing the area with underground metal plates to shut down tunnels used to smuggle goods and weapons into Gaza.
Israel claims the planned Egypt fence, like the West Bank and Gaza barriers, is rooted largely in security concerns, along with efforts to keep illegal migrants out.
The military began planning the fence in 2005 after Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, fearing that militants would freely travel to Egypt and sneak into Israel.
In early 2007 a Gaza suicide bomber entered Eilat through Egypt.
But the increasing influx of African migrants into Israel in recent years has given the project added momentum.
UN officials and human rights workers estimate some 17-thousand to 19-thousand people have entered Israel through the southern border since 2005, most of them from Eritrea, Sudan and other war-torn African countries.
The new arrivals have created a dilemma for authorities.
On the one hand, they strain Israel”s social service system, and officials fear they could upset the country”s demographic mix, possibly tilting it away from a Jewish majority.
About three-quarters of Israel”s 7 (m) million citizens are Jewish.
On the other hand, Israel is a country created in large part as a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution, and many feel they cannot turn their backs on the African migrants, believing the government must be more sensitive to their needs.
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