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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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  • Thousands of asylum seekers protest deportation outside Rwandan embassy

  • 'I won't fly refugees to their deaths': The El Al pilots resisting deportation

  • Refugees hold 'slave auction' outside Knesset to protest deportation

  • It is our silence that allows Israel to deport asylum seekers

  • Asylum seekers in Israel are scared. I am scared for them

  • The new 'choice' for asylum seekers: Deportation or prison

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

    Israel’s ‘Holot’ detention facility for asylum seekers, which is intended to rob them of so much hope that they’ll leave the country, refuses to provide Hebrew lessons as part of its education program for detainees. The result is empty classrooms and a parallel, asylum seeker-run program. By Omri Du-Nour Israel’s desert detention facility for asylum seekers, “Holot,” has been controversial ever since it was first opened four years ago. The primary aim of the facility, as declared by then-Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who initiated its construction, was to drive African asylum seekers to a state of despair, so that they…

  • 10 must-read articles for World Refugee Day

    A selection of articles and stories about asylum seekers and refugees in Israel on the occasion of World Refugee Day. (Full disclosure, I couldn't include just 10) It has been more than a decade since refugees from Darfur first began making the dangerous journey across the Sinai desert in order to seek asylum in Israel. Since those early years, Israeli society and successive Israeli governments have become increasingly hostile toward the asylum seekers from Sudan, Eritrea and elsewhere who sought safety and dignity in the country. On the occasion of World Refugee Day, here is a selection of articles about…

  • PHOTOS: Thousands protest law punishing African asylum seekers

    African asylum seekers march through central Tel Aviv to protest a law that deducts 20 percent of their wages. Photos by Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org Over 3,000 Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers marched through central Tel Aviv Saturday night against a new law that docks 20 percent of their salaries, which will be repaid only when they leave the country. Marching alongside Israeli activists, business owners who employ asylum seekers, and residents of south Tel Aviv, the protesters chanted "We are refugees — not slaves!" as they walked through Rothschild Boulevard, the city's main thoroughfare. The members of Knesset behind…

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

    For the second time, a group of African asylum seekers and Israelis put on the 'Holot Theater' — a staged performance at the Holot detention center in southern Israel, where thousands of asylum seekers are being held without trial. Read more: PHOTOS: Asylum seeker theater troupe re-imagines life in Israel Photo diary: Inside 'Holot' detention center for asylum seekers

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

    A new law compels African asylum seekers to deposit a fifth of their wages into a fund they can only access if they leave the country. It's just the latest in a long line of methods the Israeli government is using to push black asylum seekers out. By Noa Kaufman African asylum seekers in Israel will now have to deposit 20 percent of their salaries into a fund they will only be able to access if they leave the country, after an 2014 amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration law took effect on May 1. Their employers will also have…

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

    The Israeli government continues to pass discriminatory laws against African asylum seekers, turning the Israeli public against us. But how could it be that Jews have forgotten the word 'refugee?'  By Monim Haroon A new law that went into effect starting on May 1 stipulates that the state will take 20 percent of asylum seekers' monthly salaries, and 16 percent from our employers, putting the money into a fund that will only become available to us the moment we board a plane that flies us away from Israel. If we refuse to leave the country, the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and…

  • '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…

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