Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today attended the ceremony marking the completion of the fence along the Egyptian border, the section between Kerem Shalom and the Eilat area. The construction of the fence – 230 kilometers in length – took two years, approximately half of the time that was originally planned, and cost approximately NIS 1.6 billion. Last year, the phenomenon of infiltration into Israel was reduced almost to nil. In January 2012, 2,153 illegal work infiltrators entered Israel's cities, as opposed to the 36 who entered last month, all of whom were placed in detention. Last month included the first week in six years in which not even one infiltrator crossed the fence. Work on the 12 kilometers of fence in the Eilat area is expected to be completed within three months.
IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo, Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani, Fence Construction Authority head Brig.-Gen. Eran Ofir and Hagai Hadas, who was appointed by Prime Minister to be responsible for repatriating the infiltrators to their countries of origin, also attended today's tour and ceremony.
Maj.-Gen. Russo briefed Prime Minister Netanyahu on the fence and its contribution to defending Israel's borders and noted that in addition to its original purpose of blocking illegal work infiltrators, it also plays a main role in preventing attempted infiltrations by terrorists. Brig.-Gen. Ofir reviewed the construction of the fence and said, "Just as Iron Dome defends Israel's skies, the fence is an iron wall defending Israel's border."
Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "For seven months, not one infiltrator has reached Israel's cities. Just as we have stopped infiltration into Israel's cities, so too will we succeed in the next mission – repatriating the tens of thousands of infiltrators in Israel to their countries of origin. We have already begun to do so. I have appointed Hagai Hadas to deal with the issue and we can already see results of his efforts. We also need to complete the work on the country's other borders." The Prime Minister told those in charge of the project, "This is a great achievement. You did the impossible. I would like to convey to you the gratitude of all Israelis."