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European out of control muslim immigrant crisis spurs Hungarian, Bulgarian interest in Israeli border barriers

Faced with a surge in migration from the Middle East and North Africa, two European countries are exploring the possibility of erecting towering steel security fences along parts of their borders, similar to Israel’s barrier with Egypt.


Hungary and Bulgaria have made preliminary inquiries about buying the Israeli-designed fences, according to an Israeli business source who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

Both EU countries are beefing up their borders to deter migrants, many of them refugees from wars, who are seeking to use them as gateways to richer countries further north and west, particularly Germany.

But moves to throw up such barriers – which could be around 5-6 meters (15-20 feet) high, topped with razor wire and equipped with cameras and motion sensors – would evoke memories of Cold War-era divisions in Europe and exasperate EU officials who say they would not help to solve the crisis.

Bulgarian and Hungarian officials indicated that such discussions about security fences were taking place, but declined to elaborate further.

The Israeli source said any deals remained some way off, pointing to budget constraints and the political sensitivity in the European Union over erecting fences to control the flow of migrants and refugees from Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.

“(European countries) all want solutions and see the relevance of our technologies,” the source said. “But they also need EU support and this has not been forthcoming.”

The European Commission, the EU executive, has said it opposes the construction of fences but accepts it is up to each nation to decide how it protects its borders.

The type of fence the countries have expressed interest in is the one Israel has constructed along its 230 km (143-mile) border with Egypt, rather than the steel-and-concrete barrier that separates the West Bank from Israel and east Jerusalem.

The Egyptian fence was built over three years and completed in 2013, with the aim of stopping an influx of migrants from Africa and guarding against raids by Islamist insurgents.

The fence cost the Israeli government around $380 million. A similar-style barrier is likely to cost foreign customers about 15 percent more – up to $1.9 million per km, according to industry sources, although hills, forests and other difficult European topography could drive the price higher.

Erecting such barriers would represent a significant step-up in security for Hungary and Bulgaria.


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