Israeli/Egypt border fence almost complete

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending the ceremony celebrating the construction of the Egyptian fence (Photo: Flash 90)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending the ceremony celebrating the construction of the Egyptian fence (Photo: Flash 90)

The Israeli Defence Ministry announced the completion of the main section of the Israeli-Egpytian border fence on Wednesday.

The 230km fence is aimed at preventing illegal immigrants, terrorists and smugglers from entering Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the border for a ceremony marking the completion of two and a half years' work.

“Mission accomplished,” said Mr Netanyahu. “We restored our control of the border. It’s a huge accomplishment; we’ve achieved the impossible.”

The $377 million barrier, which reaches seven metres in height in places, has caused a huge drop in numbers of those crossing the border. The Times of Israel reported that 2,000 crossed the border in May, but in December the number was zero.

Mr Netanyahu also said that he would send tens of thousands of African migrants back to their home countries. “The same way we prevented the ‘infiltrators’ from entering Israel, so we will return those who are located in our cities,” he said .

Under international law it is illegal to return asylum seekers to their countries if there are no normal relations between the two countries. Israel does not have normal diplomatic relations with Eritrea or Sudan, from where many migrants living in Israel originate.

The final 12km section of the barrier, to be built in the Eilat mountain region, will be completed by May 2013.

Last updated: 2:51pm, January 3 2013