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Israel will build barrier along its southern border with Egypt to stop illegal crossings, the prime minister said.

“I decided to close Israel’s southern border to infiltrators and terrorists after prolonged discussions with government ministries and professional elements,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement late Sunday.

“This is a strategic decision to ensure the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel.

Israeli police estimate that 100 to 200 people infiltrate Israeli’s 210-kilometer (130-mile) southern border weekly. Ninety percent of those crossing the border illegally are refugees from northern Africa, the group said. The rest are thought to be migrant workers or traffickers of drugs and women.

Construction of the barrier with Egypt is expected to take several years, according to the prime minister’s office.

Israel has already built a controversial barrier separating the West Bank from the Jewish state.

The barrier is currently over 400 km (248.5 miles) in length and is comprised of 20-foot sections of concrete wall

Last July the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay urged Israel to “dismantle” the barrier and “make reparation for all damage suffered by all persons affected by the wall’s construction” on Palestinian land. CNN

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