Israel is set to begin construction of a 250-kilometer wall along its southwestern border with Egypt in a move that Tel Aviv claims to be aimed at stemming the flow of immigrants.
Tractors, bulldozers and engineers are expected to arrive at a planned location on Monday to start building the barrier with surveillance cameras mounted on the top, the Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday, citing Israeli claims that the project is to prevent thousands of African immigrants from crossing into Israel from Egypt.
According to the report, the plan would cost $358 million as part of a broader security project, which was given the go-ahead by the Israeli defense ministry in March.
The move comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the influx of migrants is a major threat to what he calls “the Jewish makeup of Israel.”
Meanwhile, Cairo has been building an underground steel barrier on its border with the Gaza Strip since last December to disrupt underground tunnels Palestinians dig across the border with Egypt in an effort to provide basic supplies for impoverished people in the blockaded coastal strip.
Humanitarian and economic conditions in the coastal enclave have reportedly deteriorated as the illegal Israeli siege on Gaza continues to hinder the flow of goods and basic needs for the 1.5 Palestinians in the territory half of whom depend on international food aid handouts.
The blockade steadily tightened since 2007 with Israel shutting down all crossings into the Gaza Strip and preventing seaborne aid shipments from crossing to the Gaza waters.
After Israel’s assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters on May 31 — in which nine civilians were killed — Tel Aviv had to slightly ease the land blockade of Gaza while the severe naval restrictions stand nonetheless unchanged.