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Seeking Asylum in Israel

There are tens of thousands of African asylum seekers in Israel, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan. Israel cannot deport nationals from those countries, but is pursuing a string of measures to stop new arrivals and encourage those already here to leave. +972 tracks the developments and challenges faced by a status-less community under increasing pressure. 

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  • 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…

  • ISIS executes three asylum seekers deported by Israel

    Video by extremist Sunni group shows execution of three Eritrean asylum seekers coerced into leaving Israel last year. At least three Eritrean asylum seekers who lived in Israel and were deported to a third country were executed by Islamic State militants in Libya this past week, according to family and friends who recognized them in a video released by the extremist Sunni group. The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants is checking the possibility that additional Eritreans deported by Israel were also executed. [tmwinpost] "I recognized my relative, T., from the photos published by ISIS that appeared on Facebook before the…

  • Likud minister: Drowning of migrants justifies Israeli policy

    Just one day after 950 asylum seekers drown on their way to Italy, Israel's transportation minister praises the government for preventing migrants from entering the country. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) sees lessons for Israeli policy in the tragic massacre of 700 asylum seekers who drowned when their vessel capsized on Sunday in the Mediterranean Sea. Posting a photo showing rows of corpses brought to shore by rescue workers, Katz wrote the following caption, which is translated here from Hebrew: "Hundreds of migrants from Africa drowned to death close to Italy in a disaster that horrified all human beings. Europe is…

  • 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…

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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