Egyptian guards seriously wound Ethiopian trying to cross into Israel

March 12, 2010

Egyptian border guards on Friday shot and seriously wounded an Ethiopian migrant trying to cross illegally into Israel, and arrested seven others, police said.

Egypt has been under mounting international pressure to both secure its border with Israel and to stop using lethal force to stop migrants from crossing the border illegally.

Police said that border guards had seen the Ethiopian man trying to sneak across the border at dawn on Friday, and that they shot him in the abdomen after he disobeyed orders to stop.

The man was being treated in a hospital in the nearby town of Rafah, at Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, they said.

In a separate incident, three Eritreans and four Ethiopians were stopped trying to cross into Israel illegally and arrested, police said.

Police said the seven had told them they had paid $1,000 each to smugglers to help them cross into Israel, where they hoped to find work.

Navi Pillay, the United Nation’s top human rights official, on earlier this month sharply criticized Egypt for using lethal force to stop migrants from crossing illegally into Israel.

Pillay said she knew of “no other country where so many unarmed migrants and asylum seekers appear to have been deliberately killed.”

Late last month, border guards said they had fatally shot two African migrants trying to cross the border after the two ignored warning shots and orders to halt.

Such killings suggested a “shoot-to-kill policy,” Pillay said.

Egypt routinely stops migrants trying to sneak across its border with Israel, in some cases using lethal force. Israeli human rights organizations say thousands more have successfully made the journey.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January announced plans to build a wall along the Israeli-Egyptian border, calling the plans “a strategic decision to secure Israel’s Jewish and democratic character.”

“We cannot let tens of thousands of illegal workers infiltrate into Israel through the southern border and inundate our country with illegal aliens,” Netanyahu said.

Source Haaretz.com