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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. 

  • Injunction poses first major hurdle to deportation plan

  • In lead-up to mass deportation, Israel closes Holot detention facility

  • Israel halts asylum seeker deportations — for now

  • Pushed out by Israel, asylum seekers find only limbo in Uganda

  • Ruling gives a drop of hope for asylum seekers facing deportation in Israel

  • Live blog: Global protests against Israeli plans to deport refugees

  • 'They told me to go to a third country. I won't go. I'll go to jail.'

    Israel begins issuing deportation notices to African asylum seekers: leave the country within two months, or face indefinite imprisonment.  By Oren Ziv Two hundred of them arrived in the early morning hours on Sunday, gathering in an industrial area in the mostly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, just outside of Tel Aviv. They arrived on foot from the main road, or by costly taxis. Now, they stand in a parking lot, amidst parked trucks and piles of garbage. They are here, outside the Interior Ministry’s main office, to submit asylum requests or renew their visas, which the Israeli government requires…

  • Asylum seekers sent to Rwanda warn: 'If you don’t want to die, stay in Israel'

    Israeli officials often imply that African asylum seekers sent to Rwanda will receive legal status and the ability to build a life there. Testimonies collected in a new report paint an entirely different — and much grimmer — picture.  “I saw 400 people [in the Mediterranean]. They drowned […] many children died, I remember. I don’t have the strength to talk about it.” “[In the Sahara] people died and we buried them […] At night it returns to our head. It returns. I don’t want to remember. It wakes me up, what I saw, people dying, no food.” "[In Uganda] they…

  • Campaign for refugees a rare reminder of our collective morality

    The campaign to stop the deportation of the asylum seekers is an encouraging reminder that Israeli society's collective conscience has not yet totally disappeared.  It is impossible not to gaze in astonishment at the Israeli public's overwhelming mobilization for asylum seekers under threat of deportation. From educators to academics, from pilots who say they will refuse to fly asylum seekers against their will to residents of south Tel Aviv who oppose the deportation, it seems that not a single sector of Israeli society has refrained from expressing its contempt for the move. [tmwinpost] The campaign is also understandably human, and there are…

  • Israeli teachers to education minister: 'Stop deportation of asylum seekers'

    Over 140 teachers sign an open letter calling to stop the deportation of asylum seekers. Meanwhile, former education ministers and Israel Prize winners warn against an 'injustice that contradicts Jewish values.' By Yael Marom Over 140 teachers signed an open letter calling on the government to change its decision to deport the asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda. Another 190 leaders in Israel’s education system, including former education ministers, also published a letter calling on Education Minister Naftali Bennet to intervene and stop the deportations. In the teachers’ letter, addressed to the prime minister, the education minister, and members of the governing coalition,…

  • Following protest, Interior Ministry refuses to accept asylum requests

    Activists splashed red paint and left mannequin heads at the entrance to the Population and Immigration Authority's office in Tel Aviv. The Interior Ministry decided to collectively punish the asylum seekers in response. The Israeli Interior Ministry said it was refusing to process any asylum claims Sunday morning as a collective punishment of sorts in response to a protest action against the planned deportation of tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. [tmwinpost] Unknown activists spilled red paint and left mannequin heads Saturday night at the entrance to the Tel Aviv office of the Population and Immigration Authority’s…

  • When the Sultan took in Jewish refugees

    Bayezid II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, saved my family's life during the Spanish Inquisition. The Israeli government could learn a thing or two from him. By Tom Pessah I am a Jew of Sephardic origin, which means the defining moment of my family's history was their expulsion from Spain in 1492. I still have relatives who speak Ladino, the Jewish language that evolved out of medieval Spanish and was preserved in the countries the Jews arrived in. We have our own dietary customs and liturgical traditions. [tmwinpost] For years, I only heard about the villains in this story — Ferdinand…

  • Asylum seekers to Israel's president: 'Look us in the eyes'

    Israel plans to begin deporting tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers in the coming months. Hundreds gather outside the President's Residence in Jerusalem, hoping to tell him their stories. By Yael Marom Several hundred asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan demonstrated in front of Israeli President Rivlin’s official residence in Jerusalem Monday night, calling on him to stop planned mass deportations. The asylum seekers, including many women and children, were joined by dozens of Jewish Israelis, among them several Holocaust survivors. [tmwinpost] The demonstrators chanted “we are refugees,” “refugees don’t deport refugees,” and “the deportations are a…

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