Security sources on Thursday said that Egyptian authorities arrested 21 Sudanese immigrants who were attempting to enter Israel via Egypt's Rafah border crossing with Gaza.
Police arrested the immigrants late Wednesday in central Sinai, a source said, explaining that 13 Sudanese men between the ages of 19 and 54 were arrested during the first attempt, while eight men between ages 20 and 30 were arrested in a second attempt.
During preliminary investigations, the detainees allegedly said they paid smugglers around US$1000 per person to help them enter Israel, where they were planning to look for jobs.
Shortly after Egypt reopened its border with Gaza, the Israeli government decided to speed up construction on a border fence along two sections of the approximately 250-km border, which it hopes to complete by 2012. Israel is also building a prison to detain illegal immigrants.
Around 10,000 illegal African immigrants have crossed into Israel via Egypt over recent years.
Egypt has been complaining about immigrants' attempts to sneak past its borders with the help of Bedouin smugglers.
International organizations accuse Egyptian authorities of using force against migrants caught trying to cross the border.