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Crossing into Israel, African migrants dodge Egyptian bullets, Israeli jail threat

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Dropped near the border, told to run

Like a river with two branches, African asylum-seekers and migrants are funneled through Sudan seeking safe passage to Israel or Italy. The path to Italy continues through Libya and embarks by boat.

On the other path to Israel, migrants are taken through Sudan, into Egypt, and across the Sinai desert in groups, paying between $300 and $3,000 for the journey, depending on their starting country. Armed Bedouins run the Sinai ring, changing vehicles in the dark and hiding refugees under blankets in truck beds during checkpoints. Asylum-seekers reach the border in the early hours of the morning.

Dropped roughly half a mile from the border, the smugglers tell them to run without slowing. If spotted, they come under fire from border guards.

Amank was spotted. But when the guards shot at him, they didn't aim to kill. Instead, he, his wife, and their two young children cowered on the ground as guards shot circles around their bodies. Charged with "infiltration," he spent the next 15 months in Egyptian prisons. He says he has no idea what happened to his wife and children.

Earlier this summer, the combination of a crackdown on the route through Libya and an increase of Eritrean migration put renewed strains on the Israeli border as desperate Africans sought to cross.

Mr. Kagan, who has done previous work on the protection of refugees in Egypt, says that pressure from either side to stem the inflow of refugees creates an environment "where essentially if they want to deter migrants from coming, they have an incentive to be as harsh as possible."

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