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.
PHOTOS: Hundreds gather to protest dire conditions of south Tel Aviv
Hundreds demonstrated in central Tel Aviv against the dire living conditions for the residents, refugees and foreign workers who live in south Tel Aviv. Photos and text: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org Approximately 300 Israelis, asylum seekers and foreign workers protested Sunday evening at Habima Square in central Tel Aviv against the living conditions in south Tel Aviv, which have led to the death of five refugee children in makeshift daycare centers over the past few months. "We will not be silent as children die. Children deserve a life of dignity," Shula Keshet, an activist from south Tel Aviv and one…
Pre-army students to Netanyahu: Stop deportation of refugees
Over 130 students from pre-military academies send a letter to the prime minister, calling on him to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and put an end to Israel's policy of deporting Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers. On the eve of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, approximately 130 students in a pre-military academy sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him not to deport asylum seekers to countries where they would face danger. [tmwinpost] The letter was sent in the wake of several reports that revealed the State's plan to change its policy from "voluntary repatriation" (a policy…
Our elected officials boast about deporting genocide survivors
Israel's leaders are proud of themselves for deporting asylum seekers, while the state continues to trample over their rights and deceive them. What have we come to? By Moran Mekamel On Tuesday, it was announced that the government is planning to forcibly deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to "third countries." Those who refuse to leave will be jailed in Saharonim prison for an indefinite amount of time. This latest step is not wrapped in pretty words such as "returning by choice" or "benefit packages," whose goal is to cover up the government-sponsored horror show taking place here. Those behind the…
Israel to indefinitely imprison asylum seekers who refuse deportation
In a move unprecedented in Western countries, Israel's outgoing interior minister announces plan to compel asylum seekers to leave the country. Israel's High Court has repeatedly struck down laws that authorized the indefinite detention of asylum seekers. Asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea will face deportation to third countries or face unlimited imprisonment in Israel under a new Interior Ministry policy set to be implemented in the coming days. Israel will provide asylum seekers 30 days notice, at the end of which, if one refuses to leave, they will face indefinite detention, according to a statement released by the ministry's…
How jailed asylum seekers are taking over Israeli Facebook feeds
As part of a new online campaign Israelis are giving voice to African asylum seekers who have been silenced, locked up and forgotten. By Avi Blecherman If you’re a Hebrew speaker you’re probably asking yourself how your Facebook feed suddenly filled up with quotes from asylum seekers in the “Holot” detention facility. Well, it’s because a new online campaign called "Voices from Holot" launched Sunday, allowing you to to share any number of quotes collected from interviews with asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan, all of whom are imprisoned in the “Holot" and “Saharonim” prisons. A number of human rights…
Asylum seekers to stay in prison while Israelis hit the polls
Human rights organizations pledge to challenge the latest iteration of the Prevention of Infiltration Law; new poll gives Livni and Labor a chance; Arab parties agree in principle to a joint list; High Court to hear Zoabi's challenge to Knesset suspension. Before disbanding itself ahead of elections, the Knesset on Monday passed its third try at a law that would keep open Israel’s detention center for African asylum seekers. The High Court of Justice struck down two previous versions of the law as unconstitutional and ordered the Holot open prison closed nearly three months ago. The law's fate fell into the…
Israel's 'backyards': First south Tel Aviv, then Holot
So long as the fight for asylum seekers' rights — which I have taken part in — remains blind to the fact that Mizrahi slums are the only places carrying the burden of supporting and integrating asylum seekers, any celebration of the High Court to shut down Holot is premature. By Shula Keshet (Translated from Hebrew by Michal Wertheimer Shimoni) My neighborhood in south Tel Aviv, Neve Sha'anan, has been given many odd names over the years. Countless times, I’ve been told: “Ah, you live in the central bus station” — and for good reason. After all, two central stations –…
WATCH: Listening to the 'Sound of Torture'
A new Israeli film takes a disturbing look at the torture camps for Eritrean refugees in Sinai, and the Swedish-Eritrean journalist who has devoted herself to exposing the torture victims’ stories and ending their suffering. Related: A life of forced labor: Why Israel's Eritrean refugees fled home Testimony: Sudanese refugee details torture by Sinai smugglers What the bones remember: Israeli doctors talk torture
A life of forced labor: Why Israel's Eritrean refugees fled home
Is Eritrea's brutal dictatorship on the verge of collapse? By Elizabeth Tsurkov Israel is home to about 35,000 Eritrean asylum-seekers. While the Israeli government claims that they are work migrants, so as not to violate its own laws, Israel does not forcibly deport Eritreans back to their country of origin. As long as Eritrea is ruled by the current regime, the millions of Eritreans living outside of their homeland cannot return, but is it possible that the regime in Eritrea will soon collapse? Recent reports from Eritrea and refugees who recently fled the east-African country indicate that the regime is…
PHOTOS: Protesters compare High Court to ISIS at anti-refugee rally
Far-right protest against High Court decision to close Holot detention center greeted by flower-bearing asylum seekers. Around 100 people, including far-right activists and residents of south Tel Aviv, protested Sunday night against asylum seekers and against the High Court decision to close the Holot detention center within 90 days. Some protesters, among them former extremist Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari and radical anti-miscegenation group Lehava's chairman Benzi Gupstein, waved black flags that said "High Court" on them, drawing the comparison between Israel's highest legal body and the Islamic State, or ISIS. Protestors marched to Levinsky Park, where several refugees awaited them with flowers in hand.…
A couple of Netanyahu's not-so-white lies to Americans
In the past week or so, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated a couple of talking points that diverged from the truth, but few people called him out on it. 1. In a meeting with the Jewish Federations of North America in New York last Tuesday, the prime minister fielded a question regarding the state's practice of sending asylum seekers to detention facilities in the desert, sometimes for unlimited periods of time. This has been the first time the prime minister commented since a recent ruling by the High Court that ordered the detainees to be released. "There is no asylum…
Israel's High Court orders closure of 'Holot' refugee detention facility
Asylum seekers imprisoned in Holot celebrate the ruling but warn that it's not clear what will happen next. Israel’s High Court of Justice on Monday struck down key parts of a law that allows the indefinite detention of African asylum seekers in Israel's ‘Holot’ detention facility, also striking down a section that permits the automatic year-long detention of newcomers. The court ordered the state to shutter Holot within 90 days. Almost exactly a year ago, the court struck down a previous version of the law that authorized the detention of asylum seekers, prompting lawmakers to quickly draft a replacement —…
High Court to rule on indefinite detention of African asylum seekers
The amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law permits the state to indefinitely detain African asylum seekers whom it cannot deport. A previous version of the law was struck down. Israel’s High Court of Justice was expected to decide whether to uphold or strike down key parts of a law that allows the indefinite detention of African asylum seekers in its ‘Holot’ detention facility. The court struck down a previous version of the law, prompting lawmakers to quickly draft a replacement — one that introduced even more severe problems. A key intention and consequence of the new law that the…
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