An Israeli court upholds the government’s policy of indefinitely imprisoning African asylum if they don’t agree to ‘voluntary deportation’ to third countries with no legal status. The xenophobia driving Israel's policy is top-down, but there is another way. By Anat Ovadia-Rosner The Be’er Sheva District Court rejected a petition filed by human rights organizations earlier this month, thereby green lighting the indefinite imprisonment of asylum seekers unless they agree to leave Israel for a third country. The term “voluntary deportation” has always described a dubious state of affairs: people who risked their lives to get to Israel, whom the state…Read More... | 37 Comments
The Israeli media shares some responsibility for the hysteria on the streets and the phenomenon of ‘accidental’ attacks against Jews, Palestinians, and now Eritreans. By Hagar Shezaf Habtom Zerhom, an Eritrean asylum seeker, was shot by security forces and then lynched by Israelis in Beer Sheva’s bus station after being mistakenly identified as a terrorist on Sunday. Moments later, Habtom’s identity was revealed, leaving many puzzled: the man who was accused of being the second assailant in a deadly gun attack didn’t match the profile of those behind the latest round of violence between Palestinians and Israelis. The Eritrean community,…Read More...
Activists, asylum seekers and refugee advocates in Israel are pointing to the incitement directed toward African asylum seekers — by politicians, state institutions and the media — as necessary context for the vigilante mob and shooting that killed an Eritrean asylum seeker. An Eritrean asylum seeker was mistaken for a Palestinian during a shooting attack at the Be’er Sheva bus station Sunday night. Habtom Zarhum, 29, was shot by a security guard who thought he was a terrorist and then – as the asylum seeker lay bleeding on the ground – civilians kicked him, cursed and spat on him. A bystander…Read More... | 2 Comments
One by one, day by day, Europe is closing its gates to refugees desperately searching for a way in. Confused, exhausted and frightened, at times they don’t even know what country they are in. Two Activestills photographers follow refugees as they make their way toward Germany. Photos and text by Keren Manor & Mareike Lauken / Activestills.org The train rolls to a stop at a small town on the Hungarian border town, Hegyeshalom. Some 1,500 refugees, the vast majority of them from Syria and Afghanistan, descend and start marching along the tracks in silence. Outside the train station and alongside the…Read More... | 4 Comments
When refugee migration was confined to Turkey and Greece, European leaders stood silent. Now, as hundreds of thousands of refugees stream into Western Europe, those same leaders are being compelled to act. Despite media alarm over a 'humanitarian crisis,' only a political solution will remedy the situation. 'We need the borders to remain open.' By Shahar Shoham (translated by Gila Norich) BUDAPEST — When visiting Budapest's central train station two days prior, I noticed only a scant number of journalists; this despite the presence of thousands of refugees, hundreds of children among them, living on the streets — some for longer…Read More...
There's no reason contributing solutions needs to be scary. Here are four viable steps Israel can take that will actually help the various refugee populations in its midst. Israeli politicians and prominent figures in the local media have begun paying attention to the refugee crisis playing out in Europe in recent days. Well, actually, that’s a misnomer. Europe is starting to pay attention to the Syrian refugee crisis because massive numbers of Syrian refugees are now arriving on its shores and borders. In recent days, one set of prominent figures has called on the Israeli government to start absorbing in…Read More... | 4 Comments
Netanyahu's message is clear: in Hebrew there is no such thing as a Syrian refugee who might find shelter in Israel; instead, there are infiltrators and terrorists. Israeli officials are rather fond of pointing out the different messages Palestinian and Arab leaders put out in Arabic and English. It turns out Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu isn’t much better. Netanyahu responded Sunday morning to a call by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, in light of the refugee crisis in Europe, for Israel to open its border with Syria to refugees fleeing ISIS and the civil war there. [tmwinpost] Explaining why he will…Read More... | 9 Comments
Approximately 600 African asylum seekers were released from Holot on Tuesday morning, following a High Court ruling. But their ban from entering Tel Aviv or Eilat — where much of their community lives — left them feeling helpless and confused. By Oren Ziv / Activestills.org Hassan, a Sudanese asylum seeker, looks on as he stands outside Holot detention center, where he has been held for the past 20 months. Tuesday was supposed to be a happy day for him — the day he was being released following a High Court ruling two weeks ago. But the decision by Interior Minister…Read More...
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…Read More... | 2 Comments
A new report by a refugee organization says the food Israeli prison authorities provide to African asylum seekers being detained in Holot does not meet their nutritional needs. During the Ramadan fast, the many restrictions on food in the 'open' facility make life even tougher on Muslim asylum seekers from Darfur. Some detainees say the hardships are intentional, part of a wider policy aimed at pressuring them to leave Israel. By Oren Ziv / Activestills.org Just before eight at night, as dinner is being served inside the prison, hundreds of asylum seekers being held in Israel’s Holot "open" detention facility…Read More... | 3 Comments
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…Read More... | 16 Comments
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…Read More... | 18 Comments
A theater troupe made up of both asylum seekers and Israelis puts on their debut performance — and lets the audience choose the ending. Text and photos by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org Nearly 1,000 asylum seekers and Israelis arrived at Holot detention center on Saturday to watch the premier of a play put on by the Holot theater troupe just outside the facility. The play — directed by Avi Mughrabi and Chen Alon, which includes refugees jailed in Holot as well as Israelis — tells the story of Eritrean asylum seekers. The actors depict the escape from forced labor in Eritrea,…Read More... | 1 Comment
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