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Record 2,000 migrants enter Israel from Egypt

(Xinhua)

08:49, September 02, 2011

JERUSALEM, Sep. 1 (Xinhua) -- A record-breaking 2,000 refugees and labor migrants infiltrated into Israel from across the Egyptian border in August, according to the latest figures released by the Israeli Population and Migration Authority (PMA).

"At least 111 infiltrators have crossed the border in the last 24 hours," the PMA spokeswoman Sabin Hadad told Xinhua Thursday, adding that "We believe that immediate national measures are needed to solve this problem."

While the bulk of the aliens came from African countries, PMA officials said other nationalities, including Turks, Chinese and Filipinos also made up a small percentage of the figure.

The PMA estimated that about 10 percent to 15 percent of the infiltrators managed to steer clear of Israeli military observation posts and crossed the border unnoticed. They then made their way to the refuge in major Israeli cities. Most of the others were apprehended and placed in temporary detention facilities.

Earlier this year, Israel accelerated the construction of a special holding facility in the Negev desert which planners say will be able to accommodate upward of 3,000 people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also called for expediting the construction of a barrier along the border with Egypt.

The PMA announcement follows a significant bolstering of Israeli military forces along the border with Egypt since mid-August, after Palestinian militants carried out a triple attack in which eight Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed. Israel said the gunmen tunneled from Gaza into Egypt, and doubled back into Israel 200 km further south along an unfenced segment of a border highway near Eilat.

Two missile boats have been deployed to guard the waters off Eilat, a significant strengthening of the maritime patrol force. Additionally, infantry troops and armor have been deployed along the Egyptian border with the southern Gaza Strip.

The beefed-up presence has since been maintained in light of intelligence information that a 10-member militant squad currently in Sinai is planning further attacks.

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