[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Tuesday urged [press release] Egypt to investigate the shootings of 60 unarmed migrants since July 2007 on the Egyptian side of the Egypt-Israeli border. The majority of those killed [UN News Centre report] have been Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Sudanese. Pillay stated that "the sheer number of victims suggests that at least some Egyptian security officials have been operating a shoot-to-kill policy. It is unlikely that so many killings would occur otherwise. Sixty killings can hardly be an accident." In February, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] also urged [press release, PDF] Egypt to take immediate action to quell the excessive force used by its border police and to investigate the policies that encourage such force.
In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website; BBC profile] announced the construction of 70 miles of fence [JURIST report] along Israel's border with Egypt in the Sinai in order to combat terrorism and illegal immigration. In explaining the purpose for the barrier, which has an estimated cost of more than $400 million USD, Netanyahu explained that his decision was a strategic move "to ensure the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel." And, that "Israel will remain open to war refugees but we cannot allow thousands of illegal workers to infiltrate into Israel via the southern border and flood our country." Israeli police estimate [Guardian report] that 100 to 200 African migrants enter the country illegally every week from Egypt, mainly in search of employment. The influx of non-Jewish migrants into Israel has caused unease [NYT report] among Jewish Israelis, a group which comprises three-fourths of the Israeli population and wants to maintain the country as the world's only Jewish-majority state.