Officials fear they could upset the country’s demographic mix, possibly tilting it away from a Jewish majority.
Israel’s prime minister has ordered the construction of two massive fences along the long and porous southern border with Egypt, saying he wants to stem a growing flood of African asylum seekers and to prevent Islamic militants from entering the country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the structure would help preserve Israel’s Jewish majority, while providing a layer of protection along an open border with an area suspected of having an al-Qaida presence.
“Idecided to close Israel’s southern border to infiltrators andterrorists after prolonged discussions,” he said in a statement. “Thisis a strategic decision to ensure the Jewish and democratic characterof the state of Israel.Israel will remain open to war refugees but we cannot allow thousandsof illegal workers to infiltrate into Israel via the southern borderand flood our country,” he said.