Israel must consider the possibility that any illegal migrant arriving from Sinai could have been recruited en route by the Islamic State (ISIS), Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan warned. Israel Hayom reported that following consultation with security officials, Erdan is demanding all such migrants be considered a security risk and the procedure for dealing with them altered accordingly.
Erdan made his comments Sunday. According to information gathered by the police, Israel Prison Service and the Public Security Ministry, there has been a recent surge in illegal migrants attempting to enter the country via Sinai, where ISIS controls some territory. Some of those migrants come from enemy states, such as Sudan, making them easy recruits.
“It is not unrealistic that Islamic State and other terrorist groups operating in Sinai would take advantage of [the migrants’] distress to recruit them,” Erdan said. “The procedure according to which illegal migrants who enter Israel are taken to the Immigration Authority and the police must be changed. This must be treated as a security issue that requires a solution.”
According to Israel Hayom, the Counterterrorism Bureau at the Prime Minister’s Office has begun examining the issue following Erdan’s assessment.
“We have to take into consideration that some [migrants] will be recruited along the way and others may belong to global jihad,” Erdan said.
“We must treat this issue as a real security risk. A scenario in which Islamic State would take a migrant’s family member hostage and make a terror attack inside Israel the condition for release is not baseless concern.”
This is not the first time Erdan has expressed concern over illegal migrants. Last week, he criticized the High Court’s decision to reduce detention time for illegal migrants, saying it was an affront to Israel’s efforts to deal with the situation.
The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement on Sunday evening, saying, “The National Security Council is holding discussions and reviewing the situation as needed with regard to illegal migrants from Africa.”
More than 40,000 Eritreans and Sudanese are in Israel, most of them illegally. Currently, 2,500 migrants are being held in the Holot detention center in southern Israel.