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.
WATCH: Confronting an Israeli minister for flouting int'l law
Sadiq al-Sadiq was returned to Israel earlier this month after finding himself being sent -- against his will -- back to Sudan, from where he fled persecution and genocide. Sadiq is just one of hundreds or thousands of Sudanese who have been pressured to leave Israel. Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who is responsible for the asylum seeker population in Israel, has made it clear that he intends to empty the country of African asylum seekers. "If we treat this [problem] like liberals, we'll lose the country," he has said in the past. Earlier this month, one Israeli activist confronted Sa'ar…
Sudanese asylum seeker returns to Israel following 'deportation'
Sadiq al-Sadiq says he never agreed to return to his home country, where he fears persecution. Israeli authorities, however, say he signed a document agreeing to just that. Based on Avi Belcherman's Hebrew article on +972's sister site, "Local Call" Adapted by Michael Omer-Man A Darfurian asylum seeker who left the Israel last week under the assumption that he was going to a third country — but soon found himself being sent back to Sudan — was returned to Israel on Friday. Activists said that his return to Israel took place against his will, and that he was being held…
Israel hasn't recognized one Sudanese refugee
Worldwide, the refugee recognition rate for Sudanese is nearly 70 percent. Out of the 10,000 in Israel, not one has been granted refugee status. By Elizbaeth Tsurkov The State of Israel recognized just over 200 refugees ever since it signed the Refugee Convention in 1954, but none of them are Sudanese nationals. You read it right - Israel hasn't recognized even one of the survivors of the Darfur genocide or the ethnic cleansing in the Nuba Mountains or Blue Nile regions as refugees. The recognition rate of Sudanese nationals as refugees is one of the highest in the world: 68.2 percent…
The other ‘1 percent’: On refugees and Passover
When we look around us this Passover, we are not the ones in need of protection, and we are not the ones escaping slavery. Somehow Israel has missed this role-reversal. Text by Rebecca De Vries and Natasha Roth Photos by Karen Zack Freedom of movement and the right to liberty do not apply to anyone who is not a citizen or resident. So spoke the Knesset's legal representative at a High Court hearing on the Prevention of Infiltration Law at the beginning of this month. The statement adequately summarises the attitude of the Israeli government - and much of the…
A Passover lesson: 'And then we were free'
By Eli Valley Eli Valley is a writer and artist whose work has been published in New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Gawker, Saveur, Haaretz and elsewhere. Eli is currently finishing his first novel. His website is www.EVComics.com and he tweets at @elivalley.
Twitter Transcript: Israel's High Court discusses 'infiltrator law'
[View the story "Israel's High Court hears arguments against 'infiltrators law'" on Storify]
PHOTOS: 24 hours outside Holot 'open' detention center
African asylum seekers converge on the Holot 'open' detention center to demand the release of those held there, and call for a comprehensive solution for their community. Photos and text by: Yotam Ronen, Oren Ziv and Tali Mayer/Activestills.org African asylum seekers from different cities in Israel held a two-day protest outside Holot detention center in the Negev, on February 17-18, 2014. Around 500 African immigrants gathered outside the center to call on Israeli authorities for the release of all people imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and find a comprehensive solution for the asylum seeker community. The detainees of Holot joined the demonstration…
PHOTOS: Right-wing activists disrupt Eritrean mourners
Right-wing activists intentionally disrupt memorial ceremonies held in a public park by Eritrean immigrants. Police arrest two neighbors who attempt to intervene. [Comment added below] Every Saturday, African asylum seekers from the Eritrean community gather in a small park on De Modina Street in the Shapira neighborhood of south Tel Aviv. There, they hold memorial ceremonies for the loved ones who have died in Eritrea or in Sinai while on their way to Israel. For years, these ceremonies have taken place every week with no sound system or speeches - just people sitting and crying together. This week, right-wing activists from…
Between Tel Aviv and Holot: Open jail splits refugee family
Six years after he fled Eritrea for Israel, Aman has found himself living in Holot - an 'open detention center' built by the Israeli government for African asylum seekers. His wife and his daughter, on the other hand, were left behind in Tel Aviv and are not permitted to live with him. By Ayla Peggy Adler When Aman, who has been sitting in Israeli prisons for over two years, was moved to the new Holot “open detention center,” he was told he was no longer a prisoner, but a resident. That got him thinking. “If I’m a resident, then my…
PHOTOS: African asylum seekers renew protests with sit-in
Protest leaders vow to continue their struggle until a solution is found. Some 1,000 maintain sit-in at Levinsky Park. Photos by: Oren Ziv, Tali Mayer, Keren Manor, Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org A renewed asylum seeker protest entered its fourth day on Wednesday as 1,000 African asylum seekers maintained a sit-in at south Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park. “The struggle didn't stop,” Walla News cited Darfuri asylum seeker and protest leader Mutasim Ali as saying, “it will continue until there is a solution.” Things are only getting worse for asylum seekers since the protests began, he explained, citing the large number…
Photo diary: Inside Israel's 'Holot' detention center for asylum seekers
In December 2013 Israel began populating the Holot detention facility for African asylum seekers, first with those who were held in other prisons and gradually with those who were until now living in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. The detainees at Holot are being held there without charge until they can be deported or such a time as their asylum claims are processed, which for many detainees means indefinitely. Ahmad, who asked that we not use his last name in order to protect him from retribution by prison authorities, escaped from Darfur five and a half years ago and…
WATCH: Rapper Jasiri X visits African refugees in south Tel Aviv
At the same time that a group of prominent African-American journalists and artists was touring Israel and Palestine earlier this month, African asylum seekers in Tel Aviv were taking to the streets to demand basic rights and refugee status. For rapper-activist Jasiri X, being so close to the refugee protests compelled him to come and see their struggle with his own eyes, he explained. “It’s been heartbreaking," JasiriX told Israel Social TV at Levinski Park in south Tel Aviv. Media reports on Israel/Palestine are often whitewashed versions of the real story, he added, “so to come here and see and hear…
The origins and politics of Israel's refugee debate
An in-depth look at the historical and political developments that shaped Israel’s current African asylum-seeker crisis — and one way to resolve it that meets Israel’s own needs while doing right by those who most need its protection. African asylum seekers in Israel have brought their struggle into the limelight in recent weeks. Through acts of civil disobedience, public protests and a mass labor strike, the mostly Eritrean and Sudanese nationals are attempting to shift the public discourse surrounding their presence in the country, gain access to a credible process in which they can seek asylum, and challenge a new…
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