JERUSALEM, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministerial colleagues on Sunday that he planned to strengthen barriers along his country’s border with Jordan, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The English-language daily’s website said Netanyahu told ministers from his Likud party that he feared illegal migrants who currently enter Israel from Egypt would head to the less-fortified Jordanian border once the Jewish state completes a fence along its southern border.
The Post said the new fence would cost 630 million shekels ($166 million, 129 million euros).
The northern part of the 238 kilometre (148 mile) border runs along the river Jordan and is dotted on the Israeli side with cliff-side army bunkers, barbed wire, lookout towers and electronic listening devices.
South of the Dead Sea, the frontier runs through rugged desert and mountains, pierced in places by canyons used as smuggling routes from Jordan.
As the Negev desert tapers toward the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat, only a few miles separate the Jordanian border on its western side and Egypt to the east.
Israel is currently erecting a giant, impenetrable security barrier along its 240-kilometre (150-mile) border with Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
Work began a year ago, in a project initially aimed at stemming a growing tide of African migrants, as well as clamping down on cross-border trafficking in drugs and women.
The pace of work has sped up since August, when gunmen from Sinai sneaked across the border and staged a series of deadly ambushes in the Negev, putting fresh emphasis on security.
The Post quoted Israeli government data published on Sunday saying that in 2011 a total of 16,816 Africans entered Israel illegally from Egypt. In December alone, 2,931 people sneaked into Israel, it said.