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NBC's Engel: 'Fortress' Israel 'Shutting Out the Arab World and Shutting Itself In'

On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel described Israel's precarious position in the Middle East: "Israel sees the world just beyond its borders collapsing. The war in Syria....Hamas in charge in Gaza....The Muslim Brotherhood running Egypt." He proclaimed that the Jewish state "hasn't ever been popular in this neighborhood, but now its enemies are at the gate and angry." [Listen to the audio]

Despite explaining the dangerous situation, Engel portrayed Israel as an almost paranoid nation cutting itself off from the outside world: "Israel is becoming a fortress. Fences along the borders with Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. More fences around the Gaza Strip, and a massive wall along the West Bank. A country the size of New Jersey with more than 500 miles of barricades. Israel is shutting out the Arab world and shutting itself in."

Engel declared: "Israel is quite physically walling itself off from a neighbor it's had a peace deal with for three decades. Israel still has a peace treaty with Egypt, its biggest Arab neighbor, but it is not taking any chances."

Here is a full transcript of the March 20 report:

RICHARD ENGEL: Israel sees the world just beyond its borders collapsing. The war in Syria, the renewed war in Iraq. Hamas in charge in Gaza, with new rockets that can reach Tel Aviv. The Muslim Brotherhood running Egypt. Israel hasn't ever been popular in this neighborhood, but now its enemies are at the gate and angry.

The Arab Spring uprising has become a threat to Israel, so it's sealing off its borders. In the Sinai mountains, 150-mile fence is going up along the border with Egypt. 20 feet high, thermal cameras, razor wire. When it's finished, it'll run all along Israel's border with Egypt. Israel is quite physically walling itself off from a neighbor it's had a peace deal with for three decades. Israel still has a peace treaty with Egypt, its biggest Arab neighbor, but it is not taking any chances.

COLONEL ROYEE BEARY [COMMANDER OF ISRAELI SOUTHERN BRIGADE]: This is the fence itself.

ENGEL: Made of what? Steel?

BEARY: Steel, exactly. And you can see all the way above, it's like knives.

ENGEL: Very hard to climb. You couldn't grip on to it.

In northern Israel, yet another fence is going up along the Syrian border. It's not far from the Saroker family home.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [SAROKER FAMILY]: We know that the whole thing is going to explode in our face at some point. And it looks like it's going to be soon.

ENGEL: Israel is becoming a fortress. Fences along the borders with Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. More fences around the Gaza Strip, and a massive wall along the West Bank. A country the size of New Jersey with more than 500 miles of barricades. Israel is shutting out the Arab world and shutting itself in.

The President had one main message for the Israeli people. The United States is with you in these uncertain times. And it's the same message the President will now deliver to other increasingly nervous American allies in the West Bank and Jordan. Brian.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Richard Engel back in the region for us tonight.