Photo by Haim Zah, GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the section of the eastern border along which work will begin on building the fence. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz, IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Sammy Turgeman, Fence Administration Director Brig.-Gen. Eran Ofir and other officials also participated in the tour.
GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Turgeman and Fence Administration Director Brig.-Gen. Ofir briefed Prime Minister Netanyahu on the work plans in the area.
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Today we are starting to build the security fence along our eastern border, in continuation of the security fences that we built along the Egyptian border. Of course, they will ultimately link up with the security fence we built on the Golan Heights.
Today we see what is happening to countries that have lost control of their borders. The combination of very brutal terrorism, labor migrants, smugglers and the loss of control in the face of the human tragedy that is taking place 360 degrees, says that we must restore control and ensure Israel’s control of its borders, almost 360 degrees, because – of course – we also have a maritime border, and this is what we are doing.
We have budgeted NIS 280 million for the first section, which will also protect the Timna airport. We are doing so without infringing in any way on the sovereignty of Jordan, which we respect and view as a partner in maintain a border of peace. This effort will advance, I hope, not just according to the timetable that you told me about, approximately one year and several months, to complete the section that we have spoken about. We want to see results beyond this. We do not know what the day will bring. We know that the more we move forward the more we will be able to duplicate our great success along the Egyptian border, where we blocked entry and illegal migration into the State of Israel. This is a success that almost no western country – and very few countries at all – has been able to achieve, but Israel has achieved it and I am determined to continue this on Israel’s other borders and ensure that Israel controls its borders.
This is not to say that we do not empathize with the human tragedy around us. Israel was the first country that extended humanitarian assistance to the victims of the war in Syria. Israel also extensively aids countries in Africa, which we intend to increase with the assistance of other countries, in order to deal with the crisis at its source. But Israel is a very small country with neither geographic nor demographic depth, and we must control our borders. This is what we are doing today. I have a very well-known practice. We set a timetable. Today we are starting the work. In three months we are determined to see the start of the fence. In another three months exactly I will be here. If you want bring forward the building of the fence, I am prepared to come earlier, but not later. I wish you all great success. This is a moment of maximum importance for the security of the State of Israel as well as for the future of the Negev and Eilat."
The National Security Council coordinated the inter-ministerial staff work along with the Defense, Finance, Justice, Foreign Affairs and other relevant ministries that led to the proposal that was submitted for Cabinet approval. At the end of June 2015, the Security Cabinet approved building the first, approximately 30-kilometer section of the eastern border fence between Eilat and Timna. Work on this section will begin immediately. The entire eastern fence will be hundreds of kilometers long. The fence will be built on the Israeli side of the border; the sovereignty and national interests of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will be upheld. Construction of the fence between Israel and Egypt, which was initiated by Prime Minister Netanyahu, has led to a drastic decline in the entry of illegal migrants over the past three years.