Monday, July 08, 2013

America Take Note - How Border Fences Work In The Real World

Do border fences actually work? Let's see.

While Israel's border with the Hamas state in Gaza was properly secured, the rest of Israel's 165 mile (266 km )border with the Egyptian Sinai was not. Previously, because of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, it was not felt that a fence was needed.

But when the Muslim Brotherhood government came to power in Egypt, Israel was faced with the need to come to terms with a two fold problem.

A flow of illegal migration into Israel, mainly from the Sudan, Eritrea and and Ethiopia had become noticeable. Major illegal African migration to Israel began in the mid-2000s, and by last year had amounted to more than 50,000 people.

The new illegal migrants (most of whom were not eligible for asylum under UN guidelines) were almost entirely economic migrants. Some ,like a few hundred Sudanese who fled the genocide in Darfur were allowed refugee status by Israel anyway, and many of the others have received temporary permission to stay and work in Israel. However, the flow was beginning to become noticeable when it came to costs to Israel's social welfare system, and to increased crime statistics involving the African migrants. In 2011, the last year statistics are available, over 1,200 criminal cases were filed against illegal immigrants from Africa, an increase of 54 percent from the year before.

Another problem is that the majority of the illegal migrants are Muslims, giving rise to certain security concerns for Israel that should be obvious.

To add to the mix, with the emergence of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood government, the security of Israel's southern border was no longer a given. While the Mubarak regime had done a reasonable job of controlling its side of the border, Morsi and the Brotherhood, who were much more hostile towards Israel made it known that they had no intention of doing so.

As a consequence, terrorist incidents directed towards Israel and originating from Sinai began to rise.

So the Israelis decided to build a fence, starting in late 2011. And made the project a priority.

Israel's border fence has two layers of fencing, one with barbed wire, and includes advanced state-of-the-art surveillance equipment.

Dubbed 'Operation Sand Timer', the fence cost just over 1 billion NIS (about $270 million)and was completed late last year, slightly ahead of schedule.

But is it working? Last year at this time, 9,570 incidents had been recorded of migrants illegally crossing into Israel from the Egypt-controlled Sinai.

This year that number is just 34.

That translates into a a 99.6% drop in illegal migration via Sinai.

In addition, terrorist incidents on Israel's southern border with Sinai have dropped markedly, as the jihadis take out their ire on Egyptian security forces instead.

That's what happens when a government decides that curbing illegal migration and securing its borders against terrorism are a priority.

As opposed to a lot of hot air from politicians who put ethnic pandering and partisan politics above national security.

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