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TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel has taken one more step to walling itself off from its neighbors.
The border with Jordan is the last Israeli frontier that is totally open to a neighboring country; the borders with Egypt, Syria and Lebanon are all fenced off.
But the nation’s Security Cabinet adopted a proposal last month to build an approximately 18-mile-long fence along Israel's eastern border with Jordan.
The 16-foot-high barrier is intended to prevent Islamist extremists and migrants from entering the country, and will stretch from the southern port city of Eilat to Timna.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the fence as vital to national security.
Some experts say that ISIS could exploit Jordanians who live close to the border.
"The infiltrators could be illegal workers but they could also be terrorists who will carry out attacks"
“The Bedouins rule that area, [but] because of economic reasons that include poverty and unemployment there is danger that ISIS will be able to infiltrate,” said Oded Eran, a former Israeli Ambassador to Jordan. “A lot of countries like Israel understand the only way to seal off their border is by installing a system of fences.”
Pressure from Israeli citizens spurred the government into action, along with the construction of the Timna Airport. Destined to become the country's southern aerial gateway, some fear the airport could become a prime target for militants crossing the border.
The fence will be similar to the high-tech barrier that separates Israel and Egypt — a 5-foot-high fence with surveillance cameras, razor wire and electronic detection.
Jordanian security forces currently enforce security along the border, where the existing security fences have been damaged by sandstorms and flooding.
“There is a real threat that whoever wants to cross from Jordan will find a way to infiltrate Israel,” said Udi Gat, chairman of the Eilot regional council. “The infiltrators could be illegal workers but they could also be terrorists who will carry out attacks here."
He added: "In the long run, our wish would be to break down the fence and live peacefully with our neighbors but we understand that in the meantime the reality is different and that the fence is needed.”
Gat said locals were pleased with the government’s decision but had one request. “We would like to think that the environment has no borders … so we want the fence to be painted in colors that match and blend into the Arava desert.”