Netanyahu pledges to build new anti-migrant wall
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to build another border wall – this time along the country’s eastern border with Jordan – to block out migrant “infiltrators” amid rising tensions over an influx of African asylum seekers.
“We erected a fence on our southern border (Egypt) and stopped the infiltration from there into Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Sunday. “We thereby stopped over a million infiltrators from Africa, which would have destroyed our country. Now we will build a fence on our eastern border (Jordan) and ensure that there will be no infiltration from there.”
The Israeli leader issued his statement after convening a special meeting of his cabinet ministers in response to a massive riot involving Eritrean migrants on Saturday in Tel Aviv. He called for his ministers to prepare new plans for deporting not only the foreign nationals involved in this weekend’s violence, but also other African migrants.
Netanyahu’s government denies the refugee status of most African asylum seekers, referring to them as “illegal infiltrators.” The country reportedly has about 25,000 migrants, including 18,000 from Eritrea. Many of those entered Israel illegally by crossing Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Israel’s southern border wall was completed in December 2013, resulting in a sharp reduction in illegal immigration into the country.
“We will protect our borders,” Netanyahu proclaimed on Sunday. “We will protect our country.”
The prime minister called for “harsh measures” against the rival groups of Eritrean migrants who brawled in Tel Aviv on Saturday. More than 150 people were injured, and the rioters broke shop windows and damaged cars as they wielded construction materials and rocks, according to media reports. Dozens of police officers were hurt, too.
The Israeli government completed a 21-mile barrier between southern Israel and Jordan in May 2018. The new project will extend that fencing northward along the eastern border.