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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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  • Why is Israel refusing to teach African asylum seekers Hebrew?

  • 10 must-read articles for World Refugee Day

  • PHOTOS: Thousands protest law punishing African asylum seekers

  • WATCH: African asylum seekers, Israelis stage play at detention center

  • Israel's new tactic for forcing out African refugees — dock their wages

  • Israelis, treat us as humans — at least until we can go home

  • 'Israelis won't rent to us, they're disconnecting us from electricity'

    The Petah Tikva municipality disconnected dozens of apartments where African asylum seekers were living from electricity, the mayor doesn't like seeing black people in public, and casual racism has a common occurrence. Faisal, a refugee from Darfur, describes what it's like to live in a city where he is unwanted. By Yael Marom The following testimony was sent to us by Faisal, an asylum seeker who came to Israel in 2008, and who now lives in the Israeli city Petah Tikva after spending two years in Holot detention center in southern Israel. His testimony comes on the heels of a new…

  • Netanyahu’s wall isn’t about immigration — it’s about race

    Netanyahu's recent boast that he has stopped all illegal immigration to Israel isn't quite true: his southern border wall is only aimed at preventing black people from entering Israel irregularly. By Asaf Calderon The United States is on fire. After two weeks in office, President Donald Trump has already managed to sign a series of Executive Orders that have sparked massive protests. Chief among them are the new ban on immigration into the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries and the order to begin construction of the long-promised “giant wall” on the border with Mexico. While thousands of Americans flooded to protest at…

  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of African asylum seekers protest Israel's deportation policy

    Hundreds of African asylum seekers gathered outside the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Thursday in order to protest the government's deportation policy, which the court is currently deliberating. Hundreds of African asylum seekers, mostly Eritreans and Sudanese, demonstrated outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Thursday in protest at the government's proposed deportation policy. The court is currently deliberating a petition against the policy, which would expand and formalize the government's existing practice of deporting asylum seekers to "third countries" — such as Uganda or Rwanda — where they receive no protection, and from where they are often forced to…

  • What will happen to Eritrean asylum seekers after Israel deports them?

    The Israeli government must not withhold information from the public about the dangers faced by Eritrean asylum seekers it is planning to deport. By Sigal Avivi Emanuel, an Eritrean asylum seeker whom Israel deported to Uganda half a year ago, agreed to take the risk of being interviewed on camera for one reason: he wanted the Israeli Supreme Court justices to look into his eyes as he told them what happens to asylum seekers who succumb to Israel's policy of pressuring them to “voluntarily” leave the country. [tmwinpost] Emanuel's desire to do this overcame his fears that should his filmed testimony fall into…

  • Keep Israel's militarism away from asylum seeker children

    Contrary to what some activists claim, Defense Minister Liberman's decision to forbid soldiers from volunteering with children of asylum seekers is a good one. By Dror Mizrachi Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman caused controversy this week when he acquiesced to requests by activists in south Tel Aviv and ordered the IDF chief of staff to stop soldiers from volunteering with asylum seeker children. The anger against Liberman was justified: volunteer work is a positive thing, especially when it is for the benefit of the weakest segments of society. But the question that needs to be asked is how, from the get go,…

  • In first, Israel grants refugee status to Sudanese asylum seeker

    Six years after he fled Darfur for Israel, Mutasim Ali, one of the leaders of the asylum seekers' struggle in Israel, has been granted refugee status. Ali: 'Now I can live a normal life with dignity.'  By Yael Marom Mutasim Ali was in the middle of his law school class when he learned that he would become the first Sudanese asylum seeker to be granted refugee status in Israel. According to the announcement, which was sent by fax to Attorney Asaf Weitzen, who represents Ali on behalf of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri had decided to…

  • Why is the state trying to jail married asylum seekers?

    It seems the authorities did everything they could to separate a married Eritrean couple who fled their home country and sought refuge in Israel. By Ofer Attar Meet Awat and Ksenet, asylum seekers from Eritrea who also happen to be a married couple. The state is currently trying to separate them and send Awat to jail. [tmwinpost] After his mother passed away from an illness and his father was killed in the Eritrean-Ethiopian War, Awat, at the age of 16, became an orphan responsible for raising his four younger siblings. He was a gifted soccer player, and as a teenager…