JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel began construction of a barrier along its border with Egypt.
Engineers were scheduled to fan out along Israel’s southern border Monday and prepare the ground of for the construction of the barrier and electronic fence.
The nearly $375 million, 155-mile project is being undertaken in order to prevent migrant workers from entering Israel as well as to deter terrorists and drug smugglers.
Hundreds of illegal migrants from Africa enter Israel each week. Nearly 11,000 have entered Israel since January, according to Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority. Most are economic migrants searching for work, though a couple hundred asylum seekers have been granted refugee status in recent years.
Dozens of migrants, who pay smugglers thousands of dollars to help them cross the border from Egypt into Israel, have been shot and killed by Egyptian soldiers.