Do border walls work?
Yes, they do, say Israelis who built a particularly troublesome barrier six years ago in cooperation with Egypt.
Today, says Ofer Israeli, an international security expert, says it has almost completely halted the mass movement of illegal migration from Africa, other human trafficking problems and provided defense against terrorist attacks.
Human trafficking “is almost zero now,” he says.
It is one of the border barriers inspected by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen six months ago when officials in the U.S. were looking for ideas for President Trump’s Mexico wall.
“Border security is national security,” said Nielsen at the time. “Our Israeli partners know that better than anyone and I was fortunate today to see the incredible work they’re doing to keep their territory and citizens safe.”
While a government shutdown is still in place over Trump’s call for Congress to approve $5.7 billion in funding for of the wall, Israel built its border wall for just $380 million. It is 143 miles wide and is between 15 and 24 feet in height. It took three years to complete.
“The obstacle separates two entities: Israel and Egypt,” said Israeli. “Today, inside Egypt, there are groups that view Israel as a target for attack. Here, too, the fence has managed to decrease friction both because of the physical obstacle, which is difficult to overcome, and because of the sensors installed on it.”
The setting up of dedicated IDF units whose goal is to patrol the fence and prevent cross-border infiltrations into Israel, is a major part of the barrier’s success, he stated. Another positive side effect has also been the decrease in cross-border narcotics-smuggling, according to Israeli.
“The quantity of drugs coming has significantly dropped,” he said.
Part of the success of the Israeli-Egypt border barrier, other Israeli experts say, is due to the cooperation between the two nations. Both countries have common security concerns.
Border fences and walls are going up around the world because of their effectiveness, say Israelis, including Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last year, Israel announced that it completed the construction of a 34-kilometer border fence between southern Israel and Jordan. The unusually tall structure towers to a height of 26 meters and is designed, among other things, to protect civilian aircraft landing at the newly built Ramon International Airport at Timna against the threat of Kornet missile attacks.
Again, the project is supported by both Jordan and Israel. A similar barrier is under consideration for Israel’s norther border with Lebanon.
The primary goal of barriers on dangerous borders like Lebanon and Gaza is “not to stop civilians, refugees or illegal migrants, but to defend against hostile elements on the other side,” said Israeli. On the other hand, such obstacles have led Israel’s enemies to come up with creative ways to overcome them, such as the combat tunnels dug by both Hamas and Hezbollah.
Hungary built a wall one on its borders with Serbia and Croatia in 2015 to deal with an influx of migrants. Turkey is barricading its troubled border with Syria with a wall and fence. And Saudi Arabia is building a massive 1,000-mile fence on its border with Yemen.