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Seeking Asylum in Israel

The number of African asylum seekers in Israel has grown substantially in recent years, now standing at roughly 60,000, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan. Israel has agreed to refrain from deporting nationals from those countries due to the risk they would face, but is pursuing a string of restrictive measures to stem the tide of arrivals. In May of last year, a nighttime mob attack took place against African migrants and their properties in south Tel Aviv, fueled by the state’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. +972 has tracked the unfolding developments and challenges faced by a status-less community under increasing pressure. 

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coverage
  • It's been 10 years since I applied for refugee status in Israel

  • Activists alter sign at entrance to Jerusalem: ‘Welcome Refugees’

  • Israel’s ultimatum to refugees: Indefinite detention or danger

  • Asylum seekers mourn ‘lynched’ Eritrean man

  • Four simple things Israel can do to help refugees

  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of asylum seekers released from Holot — with nowhere to go

  • Exclusive: Despite dangers, Israel sending asylum seekers to home countries

    For the first time, new statistics reveal that nearly 4,600 Sudanese and 1,000 Eritreans were sent back to their countries of origin, possibly against international law. Israel's Interior Ministry claims they are returning 'voluntarily.'  A +972 Magazine exclusive. By Oren Ziv / Activestills.org Israel has been sending thousands of African asylum seekers back to their home countries as part of a plan for "voluntary return." According to new statistics, which are being published here for the first time, most of the returnees have been sent back to their countries of origin — Sudan and Eritrea — rather than "third countries,"…

  • High Court approves detention of asylum seekers without charge, but only for 12 months

    The High Court of Justice capitulates to the threats of Israel's right wing and approves the prolonged detention of asylum seekers. By Haggai Matar Israel's High Court of Justice approved on Tuesday the third and latest version of the Prevention of Infiltration Law, after it struck down the two previous versions passed by the Knesset. In doing so, the justices have approved the law, which would see asylum seekers who reached the country temporarily jailed for three months, while limiting imprisonment at the Holot detention center — for all asylum seekers — for a period of a year, rather than…

  • A year since protests, detained asylum seekers hint at new strategy

    When I meet Jack outside the “Holot” desert detention facility in southern Israel, currently home to some 1,900 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea, the first thing he wanted to tell me is what bothers him about the Israelis that come to visit him and his friends. “Not many people come to visit us at Holot. The few that do come — they help us, and that’s great. But that is not going to change our situation here in Israel. We expect every Israeli to try and affect change through the political system — specifically, the government’s policy toward us, the…

  • Israel doesn't need to deport asylum seekers to make them leave

    Six ways the Israeli government is intentionally making the lives of asylum seekers unbearable. By Elizabeth Tsurkov Since 2008, the Israeli government has been implementing several policies whose purpose is to make the lives of African asylum seekers miserable, in the words of former Israeli Minister of Interior, and to coerce them to leave Israel. Both Israeli and international law prohibits the state from deporting asylum seekers to their countries of origin, leading Israel to adopt the following policies that would compel asylum seekers to leave without forcibly deportation: [tmwinpost] 1. Denial of basic rights: Since 2008, asylum seekers who…

  • Asylum seeker who left Israel: 'I believed them when they said I could stay in Uganda'

    The following is a redacted version of an affidavit that was attached to a petition filed by Israeli human rights NGOs and the Tel Aviv University Refugee Rights' Clinic against the recently announced policy of indefinitely incarcerating Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers who refuse to leave Israel for Rwanda or Uganda. Under a new policy announced on March 31, 2015, asylum-seekers detained in Holot will be offered to leave Israel for an unnamed third country. If they refuse to do so, after 30 days, they would be incarcerated in Saharonim prison. Dozens of Eritrean asylum-seekers in Holot have since undergone interviews in…

  • PHOTOS: Hundreds protest deportation of asylum seekers in Tel Aviv

    The Israeli government announced plans to offer asylum seekers a stark choice: self-deport to a third country or face indefinite imprisonment. Residents of south Tel Aviv, where many asylum seekers live, stage a counter-protest. By Oren Ziv/Activestills.org Some 300 Israeli activists staged a protest against the Israeli government’s stated future policy of deporting asylum seekers back to Africa Saturday night in central Tel Aviv’s Habima Square. Around 100 residents of Tel Aviv’s southern neighborhoods, where many asylum seekers live, staged a counter-protest. Click for +972's full coverage of asylum seekers in Israel Refugee activists shouted, "no to deportation," and called…

  • Uganda denies agreement with Israel on asylum seekers

    The Ugandan government officially denies claims it has signed an agreement with Israel, whereby it would absorb forcefully deported Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. The Israeli government has resisted calls to divulge the details of the agreements it had allegedly signed with 'third countries.' Government officials in Uganda deny there is any agreement with Israel on the deportation of asylum seekers into the country, according to the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, citing Ugandan daily New Vision. In the report, published Tuesday, Uganda's Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs James Mugume is quoted as saying: "Neither the minister [of internal affairs] nor…

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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Illustrations: Eran Mendel