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Hundreds of women march in south Tel Aviv against deportations

To mark International Women’s Day, asylum seekers and long-term residents of south Tel Aviv march together to oppose the deportation of refugees from Israel, and call for the rehabilitation south Tel Aviv’s neighborhoods. 

By Yael Marom

Over 700 women, both asylum seekers and long-term residents of south Tel Aviv, gathered Friday morning for a solidarity through the city’s southern neighborhoods, calling to stop the planned deportation of asylum seekers from the country. The women marched from the Mizrahi-feminist center Achoti, until they reached Levinsky Park, while chanting slogans such as “residents and refugees refuse to be enemies,” and “no to deportation, yes to rehabilitation.” Upon their arrival in Levinsky Park, they were met by hundreds of other women who joined for a large rally.

The march, which took place to mark International Women’s Day, was organized by Mizrahi feminist activist Shula Keshet, who heads Achoti, alongside various organizations in south Tel Aviv fighting the deportations. A small group of far-right counter protesters was also present, chanting against Keshet and in support of the deportations.

During the demonstration, Keshet called to “dismantle the ghetto and spread the refugees across Israel,” telling the crowd that “we support south Tel Aviv. They turned our area into the country’s backyard. The deportation of asylum seekers is just one step before they deport us, long-term residents of south Tel Aviv, in favor of the tycoons.”

The guest of honor at the event was Dr. Alganesh Fasea, the founder and president of Gandhi, an organization that provides support for refugees from West and East Africa who are currently living in Europe. She told the crowd: “Israel has its own past, and it can understand the situation and the importance of human rights. Let’s work together for human rights for all.” Helen Kidana, a local Eritrean activist, also spoke, saying that her dream is to longer fight for her rights. “I am still optimistic. Our time is now!”

Dr. Esther Elam, one of the founders of the feminist struggle in Israel, also spoke during the rally. “When we started the feminist struggle, we understood that the personal is political,” she told the crowd. “The struggle against racism is inseparable from the feminist struggle. The liberation of women is the liberation of all humans. Unfortunately, there are many radical organizations led by men that do not understand this point.”

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was 

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Israel expropriated a Palestinian spring. Why? Because it can.

The residents of Walajeh, who have long suffered abuses under occupation, will no longer have access to their spring. 

By Laura Wharton

The smiles in the picture above represent the cynical face of the occupation. There are a number of male officials in the picture, and very few women, standing and smiling next to the Ein Hiniyeh spring, marking its re-opening, as well as that of a nearby archeological site to the public.

“This site will allow tourists and residents from Jerusalem and beyond to enjoy a beautiful area with a unique view in the hills of Jerusalem for free,” announced Minister of Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin. However, Elkin forgot to mention the residents of the neighboring village of Walajeh, who previously enjoyed access to the pool — until now.

The celebration of the site’s re-opening, which brought together Elkin, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, his deputy Moshe Lion, and others, also marked the removal of the Palestinian residents of Walajeh from the area. By moving the checkpoint that leads to Jerusalem to the other side of the pool and archeological site, the Israeli government has blocked the Palestinians from entering, as they have done for many years.

This is not the first time that the residents of Walajeh have been expelled from the land and water that forms their livelihood. They first arrived to the area after Israel’s War of Independence, after fleeing from a nearby area that had fallen under Israeli control. After the Six Day War, most of the land around the village was annexed to Israel. Yet their homes remained beyond the boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality. They lack the blue ID cards that the other Palestinian residents of the city received.

The village’s proximity to Jerusalem proved to be its undoing. The Israeli government decided to separate the village’s residents from their land, first by declaring the village’s agricultural lands a “national park,” something Israel often does to isolate Palestinian villages. Then the village residents suffered harassment from the Israeli parks authorities. Israel built the separation wall in such a way that it cuts off the village from its agricultural lands.

Then, quietly, and in contravention of the municipal planning committee’s legal advisor, the municipality moved the checkpoint to enter Israel beyond the Ein Hiniyeh site. Until then, Palestinians and Israelis alike used the site as a picnic spot, including many residents of Walajeh. Now Palestinians cannot access the spring next to...

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The obsession with exposing the 'Muslim mindset'

After a decade of poor reportage, chaos in the region, and right-wing rule under Netanyahu, the Jewish Israeli public has hardened in its attitudes toward Islam.

By Daniel Amir

Zvi Yehezkeli is Israel’s Arabist par excellence. After over a decade as head of the Israel Channel 10’s Arab desk, Yehezkeli has become a trusted figure in Israel’s news-heavy culture. He speaks Arabic fluently, and leverages his looks and command of the language to easily blend into Muslim communities around the Middle East, Europe, and North America. In 2012, before the rise of ISIS, Yehezkeli starred in an undercover television documentary series, “Allah Islam,” purportedly exposing the real European ‘Islam’ and Muslims of Europe. The series, and its approach, was broadly panned as fear-mongering.

Yehezkeli’s new show, “Undercover,” aims to review the state of affairs in Islam half a decade later. Much has changed. Since 2012, we have witnessed the rise and decline (but not fall) of ISIS, a massive increase in refugee flows from the region, the Iran nuclear deal, and no progress on peace with Palestine. Yehezkeli’s target this time is the Muslim Brotherhood, featuring Yehezkeli himself as his Muslim alter-ego,  packaged with a beard, prayer beads, skullcap, and hidden camera. Over the course of the series, Yehezkeli travels under his false identity to give Israeli audiences a view inside ‘Islam.’

This kind of undercover work has a long history in the study of Arab affairs and Islam. To start, there was Dutch Orientalist Snouck Hurgronje, and the British Richard Francis Burton, both of whom sought a similar truth about Islam, one that could be easily encapsulated and relayed back to people who know little about it. In the series’ first episode, we see Yehezkeli in Israel visiting an imam, learning how to observe ritual purity before prayer and conduct himself in a mosque. He arrives incognito — and serious.

But the show is about a man leaning about his enemy — a threat — not a major world religion. Islam appears in the program as suspicious, secretive, mysterious — more like something to be leveraged than a religion. The show bills Yehezkeli as “putting his life in danger,” though, more often than not, he is simply wandering in and out of mosques and exchanging pleasantries in Arabic.

We must beware of this concept of “knowing” Islam as it is relayed to us by figures like Yehezkeli. Yehezkeli’s understanding is geared...

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How the Palestine movement taught me to confront anti-Semitism

On American university campuses, pro-Palestine activists are routinely smeared as anti-Semites seeking to destroy Israel. But contrary to what pro-Israel activists claim, the BDS movement has been instrumental in challenging anti-Semitism on the left. 

By Tom Pessah

Anti-Semitism is unlike most other forms of hatred, in that it is both a form of bigotry and a false accusation — too often part of a relentless propaganda campaign aimed at silencing critics of Israel. That’s why defining anti-Semitism correctly is a crucial target for our activism. As with homophobia, misogyny, or anti-black racism, there are always those who demand Jews “get over it” for the supposed good of the movement.

But bigotry is always bad. It is bad for Jews inside the pro-Palestine movement who cannot be required to accept or internalize what is toxic for them; it is bad for attracting Jews from outside the movement; and it provides plenty of ammunition for those seeking to silence Palestine solidarity activism by equating it with anti-Semitism. Because the hatred of Jews bred Zionism and all the hardships it brought upon Palestinians, ignoring the issue actually ends up harming the latter. In short, accurately calling out anti-Semitism isn’t a distraction – it’s a gift that can deeply contribute to the health of any political group.

Jews For Racial and Economic Justice’s (JFREJ) new booklet, “Understanding Antisemitism: An Offering to Our Movement,” does a good job of defining anti-Semitism as an ideology that uses lies and stereotypes about Jews in order to blame them for society’s problems. The booklet provides a rich outline of Jewish history, does not whitewash Zionism, and delineates the ways in which some Jews enjoy white privilege.

What remains missing, however, is a how-to guide: not information on what anti-Semitism is, but a demonstration of how to recognize and call it out if necessary. Confronting anti-Semitism is trickier than it sounds; it is a skill that people can eventually master, yet they are likely to make plenty of mistakes on the way. I hope to address these questions based on my own experience as an Israeli Jew in the pro-Palestine movement in the U.S. between 2006 and 2013.

Here are some of the mistakes I made until I became better at distinguishing between genuine anti-Jewish bigotry and certain forms of speech that made me uncomfortable.

I joined the UC Berkeley chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in 2006...

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Who profits from keeping Gaza on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe?

Keeping Gaza on the verge of collapse keeps international humanitarian aid money flowing to exactly where it benefits Israeli interests.

By Shir Hever

“The Gaza Strip is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.” Sound familiar? We’ve been hearing about the imminent collapse of Gaza’s drinking water, sewage, health, and electricity systems since the outbreak of the Second Intifada 18 years ago.

In their book “The One State Condition,” Ariella Azoulay and Adi Ophir attempt to answer the question, what interest does Israel have in keeping Gaza on the verge of collapse? Their answer remains valid even after fifteen years: keeping the Palestinians perpetually on the brink is proof of Israel’s conclusive victory. The Palestinians cannot take their lives as given, for Israel can take their lives at any time. This is the basis of Israel’s relation of clear relation of dominance over the Palestinians.

But while this answer is true, it is not sufficient. There is also an economic answer.  As long as Gaza remains on the brink of collapse, international donors keep the flow of humanitarian aid money going. If the crisis were ended and the siege lifted, it is safe to assume that that the international donors would change the type of aid they provide and return to focus on the development of the Gazan economy (as they did from 1994—2000, until the outbreak of the Second Intifada). This type of aid would likely compete with certain branches of Israeli companies and therefore threaten the Israeli economy. Keeping Gaza on the verge of collapse keeps international humanitarian aid money flowing exactly to where it benefits Israeli interests.

In light of the growing strength of the populist right, which portrays Palestinians as total enemies of the state of Israel, we must ask why the Israeli government has refused its second opportunity to exit the situation of “the brink” — to prompt an even worse humanitarian crisis, and cause mass death in Gaza and in the occupied territory more generally. Despite the ever-deepening national hatred for the Palestinians, the Israeli government has clearly acted to prevent this kind of scenario, allowing emergency deliveries of medicine and desalination machines (internationally funded) to prevent mass death in Gaza. But why?

Despite numerous protests from the Palestinian side, the Paris Agreements signed in 1994 continue to constitute the framework for the main economic agreements between Israel and the...

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The Iranian nuclear deal remains the least bad option

Pulling the U.S. out of the deal — or provoking Iran to pull out — would mean abandoning the least bad option for dealing with an Iran that can produce highly enriched uranium. 

By Peter Jenkins

Abbas Araghchi was in London last week. Araghchi, one of Iran’s deputy foreign ministers, was a negotiator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the July 2015 agreement designed to resolve international concerns about the nature and intent of Iran’s nuclear program.

Toward the end of an interview with the BBC on February 22, Aragchi was asked whether the JCPOA would “collapse if the United States [were] not part of it.” In response, he re-affirmed Iran’s nuclear non-proliferation commitment but hinted that a US withdrawal would provoke an Iranian withdrawal from the JCPOA unless Europe could ensure that Iran would receive the benefits due to it under the agreement — which he doubted:

Was Araghchi depicting Iranian withdrawal as likely in order to encourage Europe to do its utmost to avert a US pull-out? That would be a classic tactic. But Paris, Berlin, and London have shown no sign of needing such encouragement. On the contrary, having failed to persuade President Donald Trump to take their advice more seriously than the counsels of those who pretend that the JCPOA is flawed, they have been searching for compromises to keep both the United States and Iran on board.

So it is just as possible that Araghchi meant what he implied: Iran will withdraw if the United States pulls out, or even if President Trump does no more than continue to deprive Iran of its full measure of benefits (by instructing the Treasury to withhold licenses and by stoking uncertainty in the business world as to his intentions).

One can think of reasons why Iranian withdrawal would amount to a self-inflicted wound. It would “make the day” of President Trump, his friends in Jerusalem, and his dancing partner in Riyadh. It would deprive Iran of a basis for building confidence in its nuclear program (unless Tehran were to continue volunteering the nuclear safeguards measures and the restrictions on its program for which the JCPOA provides). It would render Iran more vulnerable to disinformation about its nuclear intentions.

But withdrawal would not be out of character. In 2006, Iran reacted to a referral to the UN Security Council (UNSC) of safeguards violations by reducing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access...

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COMIC: Evenings at the Netanyahu residence these days

Corruption scandal after corruption scandal are thinning out the prime minister’s Rolodex.

By Noam Rabinovich

Netanyahu's Rolodex. By Noam Rabinovich

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The end of the Netanyahu era is an unexpected gift to Mahmoud Abbas

Both Trump and Netanyahu had hoped to sideline the Palestinian leader. But with Bibi plagued by scandal after scandal, Abbas is now back in control.

By Menachem Klein

Mahmoud Abbas should send two bouquets of flowers: one to Israeli Police Chief Roni Alsheikh, and one to Shlomo Filber, currently a state’s witness in a corruption case that may implicate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Alsheikh and Filber have turned Netanyahu into a lame duck on his shameful journey out of Israeli politics. In doing so, they also foiled the “deal of the century” that Trump intended to present to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this coming spring. According to leaked information, Trump would allow Abbas to negotiate not over details of the deal itself, but only over its implementation. The “deal of the century” was planned in coordination with Netanyahu’s administration.

In contrast to previous administrations, which made clear their commitment to international law and UN resolutions, the Trump White House has, for the most part, ignored these commitments, which in the past allowed the Palestinians to accept the U.S. as broker in the peace talks, despite its clear support for the Israel side. These express commitments created a legal and international framework that also provided support for the Palestinian position.

After declaring that the matter of Jerusalem was no longer up for debate, Trump worked to remove the issue of Palestinian refugees from the agenda by cutting financial support for UNRWA. The assumption was that by weakening UNRWA, or even forcing it to close, the question of the Palestinian refugees would disappear. Responsibility for the Palestinian refugees would instead be transferred to the UN commission on refugees, which deals with an array of human tragedies around the globe. And anyway, the situations of refugees in Syria, Iraq, and Myanmar are far worse; the Palestinian refugees would fall at the bottom of the list. Without an international agency or body to deal with them, Washington and Jerusalem assumed the Palestinian refugees would simply disappear.

That’s not all. The talks between Jerusalem and Washington dealt with other matters regarding a final-status agreement, including security arrangements that would severely compromise Palestinian sovereignty: keeping the Jordan Valley in Israeli hands for many more years, while permitting settlement expansion there; annexing to Israel numerous settlements located in the middle of the West Bank without any territorial compensation to the Palestinians; and, of course, keeping the Gaza Strip disconnected...

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Months after shattering his skull, IDF arrests teen in pre-dawn raid

Mohammed Tamimi, cousin of Ahed Tamimi, was released several hours later. The Israeli army arrested nine others in Nabi Saleh, and video shows soldiers spraying the village with putrid ‘skunk’ water.

By +972 Magazine Staff

Israeli soldiers arrested 10 young Palestinians in a pre-dawn raid on the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh early Monday, including Mohammed Tamimi, the cousin of Ahed Tamimi whom soldiers shot in the head with a rubber bullet several months ago, shattering his skull.

Mohammed is currently awaiting surgery to reconstruct the part of his skull that was removed. The Israeli army released him Monday afternoon, according to Gaby Lasky, Ahed and Nariman’s attorney.

Video of the arrest raid published by local citizen journalist Bilal Tamimi (above) also showed Israeli soldiers spraying the village with putrid ‘skunk’ water during the night-time raid. The ‘Skunk’ is meant for crowd control, but Israeli forces have been documented using it punitively against homes and schools in the past.

The now-famous video of Ahed Tamimi attempting to push two armed soldiers off of her family’s porch was filmed shortly after Mohammed was shot.

Ahed has been in Israeli military custody since her arrest on December 19, following the publication of the video. A judge ruled in January that she will remain in prison until the end of her trial. She faces 12 different charges, including incitement to violence and assaulting a soldier, which could potentially land her in prison for several years.

While the case has garnered significant international attention, the Israeli military prison system’s treatment of Ahed and Mohammed is not unique. According Palestinian human rights group Adameer, Israel was imprisoning over 300 Palestinian minors as the end of December 2017, .

Earlier this month, dozens of American cultural luminaries, including Alice Walker, Rosario Dawson, Cornel West, and Danny Glover called for Tamimi’s release.

+972 Magazine asked the IDF Spokesperson why Mohammed was arrested. No response was received by the time of publication. It will be added here if and when it is received.

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For Gaza youth, IDF testimonies feel more like confessions

Palestinian youth respond to a play based on testimonies by Israeli soldiers, which portrays the brutality of the occupation from the point of view of the occupiers.

By Pam Bailey

The video above is a production called “It’s What We Do: A Play About the Occupation.” Although it is a drama, the soldiers’ reflections in the play are taken verbatim from actual testimonies of soldiers from Breaking the Silence, whose vivid memories continue to haunt them.

The play’s target audience was Jewish Americans, but several Palestinians from Gaza, ‘We Are Not Numbers’ writers who have themselves been the “targets” of Israeli soldiers, watched the video of the production. They were curious to see how far the the soldiers were willing to go in their confessions. It was difficult for many of them to watch, and their reactions varied. But they all agreed the video should be required viewing for Jewish people everywhere

These young Palestinians, whose reactions are reproduced below, are “an audience I never in my wildest dreams imagined for my production,” said director and producer Pamela Nice, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. “If these young Gazans, who know first-hand how occupation feels, are willing to listen to and attempt to understand how Israeli soldiers think and feel about their roles as occupiers, shouldn’t each of us give these soldiers a hearing? And be open to other points of view? As one of them says: ‘This oppression is destructive to everyone.’”

Ahmed Alnaouq

As I watched “It’s What We Do: A Play About the Occupation,” many questions sprang to my mind: does confessing commission of crimes against Palestinians make Israeli soldiers noble people? Or does knowing that these men and women have belatedly felt some remorse make the experience less painful for Palestinians?

As a Palestinian living in Gaza, one whose brother and four best friends were killed in the last Israeli war on my home, I have to admit that watching this play didn’t make me feel better. It made me feel sick — sick that this is what it takes to prove our suffering is real to the outside world.

The play shows in a very real way what life under occupation is like for Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. The actors, and the soldiers whose testimony they share, speak bravely and honestly about...

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A bizarre end to the trial of Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour

By the time a verdict is handed down in her case, Dareen Tatour will have lost over two-and-a-half years of her life to prison and house arrest.

By Yoav Haifawi

Like a cartoon character who runs over a cliff but continues to run in the air, or Achilles who thought he could pass the tortoise easily, but each time he got close, the turtle moved a bit further away, so is the trial of Dareen Tatour, a poet who has been detained since October 2015 — defying gravity, looking like it will never end.

After the last witness testified back in April 2017, Judge Adi Bambiliya-Einstein decided that the parties should submit written summaries within three months. In September, Tatour’s defense attorney, Gaby Lasky, asked to present new evidence, and the issue was brought before the judge on November 15. On that occasion, the judge accepted a request by prosecutor Attorney Alina Hardak to supplement the written summaries with oral closing arguments. After several postponements, the court scheduled the hearing for Sunday, February 18.

The prosecution’s extra show

The prosecution submitted 43 pages of written summaries. The defense managed to shorten its arguments and squeeze them into 83 pages. The initial justification had been the new evidence.

And yet there was not much new evidence.

The prosecution convinced the court not to accept as evidence a screenshot from Tatour’s Facebook page showing that she initially published the profile picture with the caption “I am the next martyr” in July 2014, as a response to the murder of the teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir. It was rejected on technical grounds — the absence of a witness corroborating the authenticity of the image.

The second piece of new evidence related to the publication of a video accompanied by the lyrics of Tatour’s poem, “Resist My People.” The defense brought evidence that the same video was later posted by Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev on her own Facebook page. That no legal steps have been taken against Regev, the defense argued, constitutes proof of discriminatory prosecution. The arguments on this matter lasted less than a minute, out of an hour and a quarter of the prosecution’s closing arguments.

On the other hand, the prosecutor took advantage of the closing arguments to repeat that which she had already detailed at length in the written summaries. She tried to present the poem, “Resist My People,” as...

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My father was jailed for believing Palestine must be free

The Israeli occupation thinks that my father, non-violent organizer Munther Amirah, is a threat to its apartheid system because he radiates hope to our community.

By Ghaida Amirah

I was born at a time when people believed the Israeli occupation would soon be over. Following the signing of the Oslo agreement, my father was confident there would be no Israeli occupation by the time I entered school. Long years went by. I am 23 years old now and just recently graduated as a lawyer. But my father, Munther Amirah, is now in an Israeli prison.

My father serves as the coordinator of the Popular Struggle Committee and was the former secretary general of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and Psychologists. Israeli soldiers arrested him over a month ago in Bethlehem for demonstrating against the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Since then, an Israeli military court has been keeping my father in prison, even though they could not prove any of the baseless charges against him.

Obviously, Israel will not say the real reasons for his arrest out loud. They know my father is innocent of what he is accused, but want him and all Palestinians to accept the systematic denial of our rights. Israel continues to slam every Palestinian for resisting and fighting the occupation in any way, shape, or form: whether by using international law, promoting BDS, or simply demonstrating on the streets. In my dad’s case, the Israeli military court is sending a message of intimidation to those who challenge their apartheid regime and come out to the streets — even nonviolently — to demonstrate for freedom and justice.

The military judge was certainly irritated when my father stated that under international law Bethlehem is not part of Israel and therefore he did not need their permission to demonstrate against Trump’s decision. I’m also certain the judge was equally upset when my father said that Israel’s occupation is only encouraging more violence. After long interrogations that deprived my dad of any sleep, those who ordered his imprisonment were certainly frustrated with his high morals even when he was taken to court.

My father is doing what anyone should be doing in a situation of injustice: resisting it. But it is not always easy for us to accept the risks that...

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Asylum seekers begin hunger strike to protest deportation deadline

Hundreds in Israel’s ‘Holot’ detention facility start a hunger strike after seven asylum seekers are sent to prison for refusing to leave Israel for Rwanda.

By Yael Marom

Israeli authorities sent seven Eritrean asylum seekers to prison on Tuesday, after they refused to be sent to Rwanda as part of a “voluntary” deportation program. Israel is giving Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers an impossible choice: leave for a third country where they are not guaranteed any legal status, or be imprisoned in Israel — indefinitely.

Some 700 asylum seekers currently detained in Holot have begun a hunger strike in protest.

The seven men, the first to be imprisoned under Israel’s new deportation scheme, were not allowed to pack up their belongings from the desert detention facility (Holot) where they were being held. Two of them are survivors of torture camps in the Sinai desert, according to the Hotline for Refugees. Israeli authorities had previously stated that victims of torture would be exempt from the deportation program.

Earlier this year, asylum seekers Israeli Interior Ministry officials began handing out deportation notices promising that an unnamed country will take them in, give them some kind of legal residency status, and the ability to work.

However, as +972 Magazine reported from Rwanda recently, what asylum seekers find in that country is entirely different than what Israeli authorities promise them. Those who have already been pushed to leave Israel receive no legal status, and the overwhelming majority are pushed out of Rwanda in a matter of days. Of the thousands of asylum seekers who have left Israel for Rwanda, a minuscule number remain in that country.

Two of those asylum seekers pushed out by Israel who managed to stay in Rwanda had a message for those being offered imprisonment or deportation: “Do not agree to come here, go to jail,” said one 32-year-old Eritrean man who left Israel in 2015. He said he has been unable to find work, and only manages to survive with the help of friends.

The asylum seekers, who asked not to be named, said they once lived in south Tel Aviv. All still speak Hebrew. “We didn’t receive status, the refugee camps didn’t accept us here, there’s no work, no food. There is no reason anyone should come here. It is better to stay and struggle...

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