JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai made headlines Wednesday calling for African infiltrators seeking asylum to be jailed, "without exception."
His remarks came a day after four Eritrean and Sudanese men were arrested on suspicion of robbing and raping a 19-year-old woman in south Tel Aviv. The men claimed she was a prostitute.
"I would do something harsh but simple," Yishai told Army Radio Wednesday. "Put all of them, without exception, in prisons or detention centers or divide them up and put the ones who don't commit crimes in detention centers."
He added that he believed most of them don't commit crimes. But those who commit even the smallest crime should be jailed and afterward repatriated to their country of origin, which Israel would help finance, he said.
Yishai said the African migrants don't respect Israeli law.
"Prison doesn't scare them. They have no work and they commit sexual and property crimes. Only a fence [at the southern border] can minimize the damage [plus] imprisonment and enforcement," he said.
Yishai distinguished between migrants and refugees, saying "whoever is considered a refugee -- and they are few -- can stay."
Authorities estimate 50,000 Africans have taken up residence in Tel Aviv. Nearly 7,000 have crossed into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula since the beginning of this year.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also believes Israel must stop the flow of illegal entry at its southern border.
The government hopes to complete the fence along the 150-mile border with Egypt by year's end.