Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that Israeli authorities raised the height of a 17-kilometer stretch of the barrier from five to eight meters. The exact location of the section, which lies in the 242-kilometer barrier, has not been disclosed.
Stretches of the fence, which extends north from the Gaza border close to the Town of Taba, were constructed by Israeli authorities over several years, with the final segments reaching completion in December 2013.
Known in Israel as Operation “Hourglass,” the border is fitted with barbed wire, razor wire, surveillance cameras, motion detectors and radars and cost an estimated US$450 million to complete.
The barrier was constructed order to prevent migration to Israel, cross border smuggling and enhance security against militant elements.
In recent years Egyptian border guards have guarded the wall, using lethal force against African migrants attempting to cross into Israel on route to Europe.
In October 2016, Egyptian troops shot dead a 15-year-old Arab-Israeli worker, reportedly on the Israeli side of the border, while he was conducting repairs on the border fence.
Israeli media frequently refers to the barrier as a “smart fence.” Citing Israeli defense ministry sources, AFP reported that the closely-monitored barrier has reduced the number of African migrants arriving in Israel which allegedly reached hundreds per month, “although at least 213 still managed to breach the fence in 2015.”
According to figures compiled by Human Rights Watch, Egyptian forces killed 10 people attempting to cross the border with Israel throughout 2007. In 2008, another 23 Sudanese and Sub-Saharan Africans were killed by Egyptian forces.
Israel’s Interior Ministry claims there are over 45,000 African migrants in the country, though other figures estimate 53,000, most of whom are Sudanese and Eritrean refugees who have fled war and violence, although they have largely been classified as ‘economic migrants.’ Many of these migrants have cited racial discrimination and threats of deportation by the Israeli state.
In the USA, some senior supporters of President-elect Donald Trump within the Republican Party have advised him to look to Israel’s border fence as a model for his proposed wall along the Mexican-American border with which he seeks to keep out undocumented Latin American migrants.