More than 9,200 illegal migrants were expelled from or left Israel in 2012, according to new figures published by the Prime Minister's Office on Monday. The figures showed that 3,920 Africans were expelled and a further 5,287 illegal aliens from Asian and Eastern European countries left Israel after their visas expired.
The figures suggest that the security fence being constructed along Israel's southern border has been effective in stopping infiltrators. The number of Africans illegally crossing the border from Egypt into Israel fell steadily over the year, from 2,295 in January to 928 in June to just 36 in December. All 36 who entered in December were detained and none of them reached Israel's cities. Last week, for the first full week since 2006, not a single infiltrator crossed the border.
"We have succeeded in blocking the phenomenon of illegal infiltrators," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an official statement.
"After months this year in which thousands of infiltrators crossed the border and reached Israel's cities, it has been several months now that no infiltrator has reached Eilat, Beersheba, Tel Aviv or any Israeli community. At the same time, we are in the midst of the process of repatriating infiltrators to their countries of origin, under the supervision of [Prime Minister's Office special representative] Hagai Hadas, in cooperation with the Population and Migration Authority, which has been doing its work professionally and humanely.
"For several months now, hundreds of infiltrators have been leaving here for their countries of origin and thousands will soon do so every month until the tens of thousands of people who are here illegally return to their countries of origin."
The Prime Minister's Office emphasized that Netanyahu, who initiated the construction of the fence along Israel's border with Egypt, has visited the construction site every three months and has made efforts to maintain the rate of construction to complete the fence on time.
The government has almost completed construction of the security fence along the 225-kilometer-long Sinai border, except for a 15-kilometer section near Eilat. Construction of the last section is expected to be complete within a month.