Infiltration into Israel is still rising, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) warned Friday, despite measures designed to deter illegal immigrants from attempting to scale the Sinai border fence into the Jewish state.
Twenty-nine infiltrators entered Israel over the Yom Kippur holiday Tuesday night/Wednesday, she said – marking 142 infiltrators on record since January 2015. Of those, 101 entered in August and September.
Shaked's own Infiltrator Prevention Law, which was partially approved by the High Court for Justice, is not doing enough to stem the flow, she admitted.
"There is currently only one way to stop this: immediate transfer to a third country," she said. "All the intruders will know that when they arrive in Israel they will be imprisoned and then deported. This blunts the edge of their motivation."
Measures to introduce a deportation option are already moving through the legal system, she added, but are being stymied by petitions from various leftist organizations.
The version of the Infiltrator Law that was discussed by the court was approved on the last day of the 19th Knesset's term. Approved by 43 MKs against 20, it states that illegal infiltrators may be detained at the Saharonim jail for up to three months (instead of a year in the earlier version of the law), after which they are to be transferred to the open facility in Holot.
The law specifies that the state will try to ensure that asylum seekers leave the country in several ways. With the approval of the law, employers will be required to deposit a monthly fee for employing asylum seekers, at the expense of severance pay. Each asylum seeker working in Israel will also be required to deposit money from his/her own paycheck, which he/she will receive only upon leaving Israel.
However, legal complications have prevented the law from being fully implemented; as part of the legal limbo, some 1,200 infiltrators were released earlier this month after being held for a year. Critics say stopgap measures to send them to Petach Tikva instead of major cities Tel Aviv and Eilat have done nothing to address the actual immigration issue.
The large influx of illegal immigrants has caused a spike in violent crime, particularly in southern Tel Aviv and other areas where the infiltrators have tended to congregate. Despite the protestations of leftist groups, official figures have shown nearly all of the infiltrators are in fact job migrants, and not refugees.