Work stepped up on Israel-Egypt border fence

Construction has been completed on the first permanent section of a border fence between Israel and Egypt.

On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Ministry Director Gen. Udi Shani toured the fence site, which will be nearly 135 miles long when it is completed in mid-2012. A decision to speed up construction of the border fence was made in the ministry just days after Egypt opened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza in the Sinai.

Infiltration of the border by illegal migrants has dropped by 50 percent since construction of the fence began in November 2010, Shani reportedly was told.

African migrants generally enter Israel through its largely unmonitored border with Egypt’s Sinai.

More than 33,000 African migrants have entered Israel, including 2,600 since the beginning of the year, according to the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority.