Egyptian security guards are taking neither chances nor prisoners at the common border crossing point between their country and Israel.
Recently, they shot and killed the 14th African migrant at the Gaza Strip near the Sinai border because he ignored warnings to stop as he attempted to cross illegally into Israel.
The shot youth was from Eritrea this time adding to the long list of others from Malawi, Senegal, Zimbabwe and other African states that had been gunned down as they went to seek greener pastures.
Although the Chinese proverb said the grass is greener where it is thickest, these young lads were at the prime of their lives.
In the days of the American Wild West, gunmen were noted for notching their gunbutts with the number of people they had taken shot at with their Winchester rifles.
Is it slowly becoming a replay of the act? Quizzed one African diplomat the other day.
What makes the shoot-and-ask-no-question chilling is because its number 14 since January this year.
In 2009, at least 17 migrants bit the dust as a result of such “shoot-on-sight” policy.
Add that number to this year’s figure and it will add up to 31. That’s what we know officially but it could be more.
In the circumstances, comparison could be made to the then situation of the Berlin Wall episode during the West and East Germany divide.
Added to this, Israel is going ahead to construct a 270 million US dollar wall on the border to halt migrant flow from Egypt.
Egypt in turn will also dig in a seven mile, 18 metre deep wall along the border, a development that has drawn intense criticisms from Middle East states.
Human rights groups said the policy of using lethal force against African migrants trying to cross into Israel illegally should not be the option to the dilemma.
It is rather curious though that the Egyptian government describes the act of attempting to smuggle oneself into Israel are ”criminal acts that damage the sovereignty of the state,.”
Whatever that means in Cairo’s cozy relationship with Tel Aviv, the act of knocking off illegal migrants trying to cross into Israel is likely to damage its relationship with African countries if it continues uncheck.
A rather overzealous political analyst was apt to compare the past and present incidents with the days of the Red Terror in the 1970s in Ethiopia during the regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam who is now a political exile in Zimbabwe.
It may not be tht extreme for Egypt but in the Ethiopian case, families had to pay for the bullet used to kill their relatives before the body was released. The Ethiopian regime had called them fascists.
But back to the Egyptian story, what about the grieving relatives back home who thought their sons were eking out a living overseas with the expectant wish that money would be sent back to keep their bodies and souls together.
Imagine the shock when friends write back to say their kids have gone to the land beyond and they in turn would ask, who did it ?
Local and foreign jurists are peeved whether a less harsh measure could not be found rather than the shoot-to-kill.