Egypt has commenced construction of a huge metal wall along its border with the Gaza Strip that will extend 18 meters (55 feet) underground in an attempt to cut smuggling tunnels. The United States this year provided Egypt with $32 million for electronic surveillance and other security devices to prevent the movement of food, merchandise and weapons into Gaza—funds which are now likely being used in construction of the border wall. The barrier, which Egyptian officials say will be “impenetrable,” is slated to be completed in 18 months. (Information Clearing House, Dec. 10; BBC News, Dec. 9)
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Israel builds security barrier on Egyptian border
Israel is building a 60-kilometer barrier on its border with Egypt, aimed at keeping out African asylum-seekers—amid a wave of intolerance towards people widely referred to as “illegal workers.” The barrier will be built at two locations which witness the most crossings—near the Gaza strip and near Eilat. The estimated $1.35 billion project is due to be completed at the end of 2013. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted in July as saying that the “flood of illegal workers infiltrating from Africa” into Israel is “a concrete threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the country.” (IRIN, Nov. 11)