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…Read More... | 11 Comments
In Israel's most vibrant demonstration ever to take place on the refugee issue, and in two bold escapes from an 'open prison,' African asylum seekers are starting to present themselves as a political force to be reckoned with. Saturday night was something like no one in Israel had ever seen before. It was supposed to be a small demonstration - a quiet march of several hundred Israeli activists and African asylum seekers, coming on the heels of two Marches for Freedom that took place earlier in the week (both of which were intercepted and suppressed by immigration authorities). Initially, it didn't seem…Read More... | 11 Comments
While most Israelis were focused on the latest war on Gaza or the last election, verbal incitement, physical attacks, incarceration without trial and forced deportation of Africans continued unabated. A timeline of Israel's war on African asylum-seekers between November 2012 and May 2013. By David Sheen Last Thursday, May 23, 2013, marked exactly one year to the day when a thousand Jewish Israelis ran rampant through the streets of Tel Aviv, smashing and looting African-operated businesses and physically assaulting any dark-skinned person they came across. Sadly, the Israeli economic, political and religious establishment - who were in large measure responsible for…Read More... | 9 Comments
Sudanese refugees from the Nuba Mountains are being registered by Israel's Interior Ministry as South Sudanese, making it difficult for them to find and keep work, pay for rent, bills, or food, and subjecting them to potential arrest and deportation. By Natasha Roth How would you react if someone told you that your name was no longer your name? Even though you had an official, government-issued identity card with it written on? Or that your nationality was now different from the one you've held all your life, though your passport proved where you were from? Now imagine that this unilateral change to…Read More... | 1 Comment
Israeli-Jewish identity should be one that pursues justice for the collective and perseveres in the fight against oppression. Plans to destroy hundreds of homes or imprison thousands of refugees defile and contradict all that is good in that very identity. By Moriel Rothman Scenario One. Imagine: You wake up in a place that is not familiar. You are disoriented: this is not your home. And then, it floods over you like a wave: your home was destroyed. So was your brother's home. And your parents' home. And the place that you worked. And your children's school. And your entire village. And the…Read More... | 11 Comments
Three months ago, Interior Minister Eli Yishai deported several hundred families from Israel to South Sudan, despite unequivocal statements by human rights group that mere fact of the established state is far from the offering the safety that would allow for these families' return; the request was at least to extend the group exemption from deportation - Israel's mechanism of neither denying nor granting asylum - a few months longer. Even that demand was ignored. The deportees' baggage, all 14 tons of it, was delayed for two months and kept at a warehouse in Israel, simply because the state felt…Read More... | 20 Comments
Text by: Rami Gudovitch All photos by: Activestills.org “Do you know, Rami, that I was in 'Mustafa Mahmoud?'” Regina, a 12-year-old South Sudanese girl, asked me after she and her family were released from 27 days in an Israeli prison. Her father, a tall man with noticeable facial scars from the torture he underwent in Khartoum, affirms her words, handing me an old newspaper clipping from Egypt, dated 2005. I cannot read Arabic, but I can see her mother, laying on the ground, surrounded by police officers in one photo, and the little body of a child covered by a…Read More... | 11 Comments
The apartment of an Eritrean couple in Jerusalem went up in flames last night, in what looks like another arson attack. Haaretz reports that at around 3 a.m., the man and the woman, who is seven months pregnant, awoke and tried to stamp out the fire with their feet. There are times when events are so horrible, it's hard to find any words and easy to feel paralyzed with misery. *** The Hebrew Haaretz story adds that the 32-year old man suffered second-degree burns over 20 percent of his body. And because of the woman's advanced pregnancy, both will be…Read More... | 6 Comments
Refugees and their supporters in Tel Aviv mark World Refugee Day on Friday. But amidst what is meant to be a celebratory event hangs a strong sense of unease, as Israel tightens its immigration policies, threatening to deport those who seek protection and to jail the ones it cannot expel. Last week, Israel began aggressive efforts to deport the entire South Sudanese community, which had enjoyed protection from deportation until now. Activestills documented the weeks leading up to their expulsion. Text by Yotam Gidron All photos by Activestills On June 7, 2012, the Jerusalem District Court ruled against a petition submitted…Read More... | 2 Comments
Among the hundreds of South Sudanese slated for deportation is a group of children who have been removed from their parents' custody due to severe domestic violence. The authorities have not taken steps to ensure their protection, and they risk not only immediate deportation, but a forced return to abusive families. South Sudanese victims of child abuse who have been removed from the custody of their parents by Israeli welfare services are being targeted for deportation along with their families. Yedioth Ahronoth reported today that immigration authorities arrived this week at several boarding schools at which South Sudanese refugee children…Read More...
Activists believe the deportation of South Sudanese will most probably not lower the number of African migrants in Israel, and it is also a direct violation of Israel's obligations under international commitments. Israeli authorities have begun arresting dozens of African migrants, as reported by +972's Mya Guarnieri. It is the latest in an effort to crackdown on individuals who over the years have entered the country illegally. The move comes despite a court order that the government allow them one week to turn themselves in voluntarily. The one week period expires on Thursday. The government hopes to deport an unspecified number…Read More... | 8 Comments
International organizations warn of a humanitarian disaster and pending war in South Sudan. Israel, however, has seized the new state's independence as an opportunity to deport South Sudanese nationals, who formerly enjoyed the temporary protection Israel extends to Sudanese citizens. Authorities on Sunday began arresting South Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel ahead of their deportation. This is one asylum seeker's plea for just treatment. By Joseph Monyde Malieny This is a genuine, heartfelt letter to the great Israeli society, and an expression of the pain in my soul to Israeli authorities, due to their unethical attitude toward African communities in Israel. We, the…Read More... | 10 Comments
The courts cleared the way for deportation of South Sudanese on Thursday, giving them a week to leave voluntarily - but only three days later, authorities have already begun rounding up people. Update: Haaretz reported on Monday that mass arrests of African asylum seekers and immigrants continued in Eilat and central Israel. Immigration authorities said that 55 Africans had been arrested, among them 45 South Sudanese nationals. Refugees reported that children were among those detained, but this has not been independently verified. Eight refugees from South Sudan were detained on Sunday, marking the first step in the deportation of asylum seekers. On…Read More... | 19 Comments
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