CAIRO: The Foreign Ministry has released a statement defending the shooting of African migrants attempting to cross the border into Israel, claiming that national security takes precedence.
Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in the statement that primary objectives in these situations “are the Egyptian borders security, national security protection, guaranteeing the safety and security of the Egyptian troops as well as implementing Egypt’s international commitments in combating all kinds of smuggling.
He added that this particular border is a sensitive area and was the site of a plethora of attempted crimes, including weapons and drugs smuggling, as well as the transport of persons, and admitted that border troops “do not stop the infiltrates in order to recognize their identities and estimate the threat they may constitute.
Since early 2008, some 40 African migrants have been killed at the border while attempting to cross into Israel according to Amnesty International. Four African migrants were killed last week by border guards as they attempted to make the crossing.
Zaki claimed that many steps preceded the shooting of the migrants saying, “they are warned [by loudspeakers] more than once to retreat, then gun [shots] are [fired] in the air. Shooting the infiltrates comes after they ignore the warnings of the border guards.
“Most of these accidents take place in difficult circumstances, at night, in vague vision, he added.
The ministry spokesman also said that the migrants who turned out to be living in Egypt, “should not have violated Egyptian law in the first place, especially that international law commits any refugee, or even illegitimate inhabitant, to respect the laws of the country [in which] he dwells.
However, Amnesty International spokesperson Nicole Choueiry told AP that the lack of information regarding the circumstances of the shooting cast doubt on whether international guidelines were being respected on the Egypt-Israel border.
“Investigation is key. The numbers (killed), the circumstances and the lack of information have been alarming, she said.