Officials said the Israeli military has acknowledged the failure to stop or significantly reduce the infiltration of Palestinians from the West Bank. They said the multi-billion-dollar security barrier along the West Bank has not hampered Palestinians from illegal residence in the Jewish state.
“Every day, more and more young Palestinians cross into Israel without any trouble and find apartments and jobs without any difficulty,” an official said. “The terrorist groups have used this to plant their own people for sleeper and operational cells.”
In December 2013, the military and Israel Security Agency captured a cell of the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad that plotted a series of mass-casualty strikes in Israel. The cell included a senior operative who entered Israel and took up residence in Tel Aviv.
“He was sent to help organize cells in the center of the country,” an official said.
Officials said the Israeli military assessed that nearly 100,000 Palestinians were illegally living in Israel. They said between 6,000 and 8,000 Palestinians crossed into Israel every month despite the West Bank barrier.
“When an infiltrator is caught, he is released shortly, unless he is caught a third time, in which case the penalty hardly deters, if at all,” Lt. Col. Eli Jeno, a senior officer of the army’s Givati Brigade, said.
Officials said the security barrier has done little to stop young Palestinians from entering Israel. They said Palestinians consistently damaged the fence despite daily Israel Army patrols.
“We faced seven incidents in which we were forced to shoot in the direction of Palestinians who tried to sabotage the fence,” Jeno said.
Officials said illegal Palestinians have found haven in cities throughout Israel. They said many of them joined criminal gangs while others sought to marry Israeli women in an attempt to acquire permanent residency.
“This is a long-term problem that will not be solved by any Palestinian state,” the official said. “If anything, the prospect of a state will push more Palestinians to try to live here in case the border is hermetically sealed.”