CAIRO: Egypt has stated that an Israeli decision to build a high-tech barrier fence along its border with Egypt was something that concerned Israel alone, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said.
“It is an Israeli matter, Zaki retorted when asked about plans to build a new barrier along the 210 km border it shares with Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu announced the decision to erect the fence late on Sunday.
“I decided to close Israel’s southern border to infiltrators and terrorists after prolonged discussions with government ministries and professional elements, Netanyahu said in a statement. “This is a strategic decision to ensure the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel.
However, the majority of people who attempt to cross into Israel tend to be African migrants, 17 of whom have been shot at the border in the past eight months alone.
“Israel will remain open to war refugees, but we cannot allow thousands of illegal workers to infiltrate into Israel via the southern border and flood our country, Netanyahu said.
The announcement comes in the footsteps of Egyptian construction of a new underground barrier along its border with Gaza to block the tunnel activity smuggling goods and services as well as weapons.
Concurrently, Al-Ahram newspaper reported Monday that Israel was planning to attack Gaza again, in an operation dubbed Cast Lead 2. The newspaper quoted a report on Israeli television that spoke of preparations for a weeklong attack on Gaza.
There has been a recent exchange of fire between both sides, which culminated in an Israeli strike on Gaza Sunday that killed three people. Comments from Israeli officials have carried a more threatening tone of late towards Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that Hamas leaders should “watch their step, and not to cry crocodile tears if they force [Israel] to take action, adding that recent rocket fire from the Strip was not from Hamas, but from other groups which Hamas was failing to rein in.
He told Reuters when asked about another possible conflict in Gaza, “Hamas is well deterred from trying another direct collision with Israel.
Additionally the Jerusalem Post reported that in case of another conflict in Gaza, the IDF had drawn plans to take over the Philadelphi Corridor, the strip of land between Egypt and Gaza which contains the tunnels. This would mean that IDF forces would control the Palestinian side of the border town of Rafah.