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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. 

  • Rwanda is out, but Israel says it can still deport refugees to — Uganda?

  • A week of unbearable heartbreak in Israel-Palestine

  • Deal or no deal, the anti-deportation campaign can claim victory

  • Israel halts refugee deportation plan, UN to help with resettlement [updated]

  • 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

    Israeli authorities signal they plan to keep the deportation plan on schedule. By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man and Joshua Leifer Israeli authorities announced that they will temporarily halt, until further notice, the deportation of African asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda. Israel will, however, continue to issue deportation notices, and asylum seekers who are already in prison for refusing deportation will not be released. Those processes will continue, the state told the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, “so that the [deportation] plan’s timeline is not delayed.” The decision to temporarily halt the deportations came in response to a petition that…

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

    By Oren Ziv KAMPALA, Uganda — “Why should Uganda take in the people Israel doesn’t want?” asks Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, a Ugandan member of parliament who joined us in a cafe in central Kampala. “If they’re being sent by the UN, they’ll be treated like all refugees, in a temporary manner because of the problems in their countries,” Nganda continues. He insisted on meeting us, after hearing that a small delegation of Knesset members was visiting his country from Israel. “Uganda will not become a dumping ground that whoever thinks they cannot host people — that you throw them in…

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

    An appeals tribunal recognizes an Eritrean man's refugee status on the grounds that he fled the Eritrean army, rejecting a policy that has resulted in one of the lowest refugee recognition rates in the world. Attorney Elad Cahana, who worked on the case, speaks to +972 Magazine about its implications for the thousands of asylum seekers Israel is planning to deport. A Justice Ministry appeals tribunal last week handed down what many are hoping will be a groundbreaking ruling for Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel. A judge ruled that desertion from the Eritrean army, which forms at least part of the…

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

    Protests are expected outside Rwandan embassies around the world Wednesday as Israel moves forward with its plan to deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers, most of whom fled Eritrea and Sudan. By +972 Magazine Staff [This live blog has ended.] Activists hope Israel's deportation plan can be stopped if Rwanda pulls out of its secret deal with Israel. Israeli officials claim they have a secret agreement with an African country — widely presumed to be Rwanda —according to which that country will accept refugees deported from Israel. Rwandan officials, however, have repeatedly denied the existence of any agreement with Israel and…

  • '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…