The last year has been a tumultuous one for the 35,000 asylum seekers in Israel, most of whom have come from Sudan or Eritrea over the past decade. The Israeli government started the year with a plan to pay most of the asylum seekers to leave for Rwanda and Uganda, and with a half-cocked plan to forcibly deport the rest of them to those countries. Asylum seekers who refused deportation faced indefinite imprisonment. Meanwhile, the government refused to even examine the vast majority of their asylum requests. “We live in a limbo” says Darfuri asylum seeker Jack Tigi-Tigi, 34, who arrived…Read More... | 1 Comment
A new documentary tells the story of the firebombing of a kindergarten for asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, holding up a mirror to the crucial choice Israeli society faces today. By Roni Dorot Roni Geffen’s short film, Divine Daycare, portrays an exercise in tribal solidarity, as well as an exercise in social solidarity beyond tribal bonds. The film follows the story of a kindergarten for refugee children in south Tel Aviv after Israelis threw six Molotov cocktails and torched it. It is deeply moving and touches raw nerves. [tmwinpost] One might say – and justifiably so — that it is not difficult to…Read More... | 3 Comments
Israel frees 200 asylum seekers imprisoned for refusing deportation after the government admits there is no secret agreement with Uganda that allows for the mass deportation of refugees. Israel released 207 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers on Sunday, all of whom had been indefinitely imprisoned for refusing deportation to Uganda or Rwanda. Israel’s High Court ruled last Tuesday that the government had until Sunday at noon to present a new agreement with Uganda that would allow the mass deportation of refugees to proceed. [tmwinpost] In the absence of an agreement, the Court ordered the government to release all asylum seekers…Read More...
Demonstrators gather in Tel Aviv and in front Ugandan embassies in cities around the world to protest Israel's plan to deport tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Uganda. Asylum seekers and activists protested in Tel Aviv and outside Ugandan embassies around the world on Monday against Israel's plan to deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers there. After international pressure led Rwanda to back out of a secret agreement to accept asylum seekers deported from Israel, Israel now claims it has an identical agreement with Uganda. [tmwinpost] The demonstrations come just one week after the Israeli government announced it was abandoning its…Read More... | 2 Comments
It is impossible to know what will happen along the border with Gaza in the coming weeks. But one thing is certain: Israel will continue to respond with brutality and arrogance in the face of Palestinian nonviolent civil disobedience. By Aviv Tatarsky Anyone who wants to understand where Israel is heading in Gaza ought to think about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent behavior regarding African asylum seekers. Even better: let’s go back to when the Israeli government decided to place metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif last summer. [tmwinpost] Despite the differences, these three struggles have a single…Read More... | 4 Comments
International pressure led Rwanda to back out of a secret agreement to take in African asylum seekers deported from Israel. Now Israel says it has a nearly identical agreement with a second country, widely known to be Uganda. Kampala denies any such agreement exists. Israeli insisted on Wednesday that despite the collapse of a deal with Rwanda to forcibly deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers, the mass deportations can continue because an agreement is still in place with a “second third country,” widely believed to be Uganda. [tmwinpost] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the cancelation of the Rwanda deportation…Read More...
For the first time since he took office, Netanyahu did something that angered his loyal base to the extent that they are threatening to vote for another party. On Monday Benjamin Netanyahu proved two things: one, that his base of fanatically loyal voters are motivated primarily by racism; two, that Facebook's "angry" emoticon can drive government policy that affects the lives of tens of thousands of human beings. [tmwinpost] Netanyahu reversed his government's policy of a decade when, at a Monday evening press conference, he announced that he had made a deal with the UNHCR: rather than giving the asylum seekers, primarily from Sudan and Eritrea, the choice between deportation…Read More... | 2 Comments
From unarmed protesters gunned down in Gaza to hope snatched away from refugees, the human suffering this past week has been overwhelming. This past week has been one of the more heartbreaking recent periods in Israel-Palestine. First, and this seems surreal to write for the umpteenth time, the Israeli army dispatched 100 snipers to open fire into a crowd of unarmed protesters last weekend, shooting over 700 people, killing at least 16. Some were shot in the back while running away. [tmwinpost] Not only have the country’s leadership, its military, and its cheerleaders been completely unapologetic and dispassionate about what…Read More... | 1 Comment
One day after proudly announcing a UN agreement to resettle 16,000 asylum seekers, Netanyahu cancels the agreement due to criticism from the Right. And yet, the anti-deportation campaign can claim a victory. Benjamin Netanyahu is in trouble. With his announcement of the UN agreement regarding the African asylum seekers yesterday, and his announcement several hours later that the agreement had been suspended, Netanyahu made one thing clear: the Left's anti-deportation campaign had won. [tmwinpost] Deporting the asylum seekers to a “third country” in Africa is off the table. The only available option to alleviate the suffering of the asylum seekers and…Read More...
After major public campaigns inside Israel and abroad, pressure on the Rwandan government not to accept refugees deported by Israel, and ultimately effective legal challenges, Israel announces it will scrap its mass deportation plan and work with the UN to resettle African asylum seekers in Western countries. This is a huge victory but there may be more fight ahead. [Important update added at the bottom of this article.] The Israeli government announced Monday that it was abandoning its plan to deport tens of thousands of African asylum seekers to Rwanda, following “mutual understandings” it had reached with the UN Refugee…Read More... | 7 Comments
High Court extends an injunction against the planned mass deportation of African asylum seekers, but those already locked up for refusing deportation will spend the 'festival of freedom' in prison. Hundreds of African asylum seekers will remain in Israeli prisons this Passover, their fate on hold after the country’s High Court gave the government an extension — for the third time — to respond to a petition challenging the mass deportation of asylum seekers originally planned to start this Friday. [tmwinpost] The court issued an injunction on March 15 against the deportations themselves, but Israeli authorities are still permitted to…Read More...
Tens of thousands crowded Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Saturday to show solidarity for asylum seekers facing deportation. 'If we let the deportation happen, the Jewish people will have a stain on its history forever.' It was an unusually hazy night in Tel Aviv. The lights from the stage caught the dust in long, yellow beams. Banners bearing slogans like “standing together against the deportations” rippled gently in the slight wind. Some 25,000 people were gathered in Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s plan to deport tens of thousands of African asylum seekers. [tmwinpost] The words of Monim…Read More... | 1 Comment
The temporary injunction against the government's plan will remain in effect for at least another week and a half. But the mass deportations are still scheduled to begin on April 1. Israel’s top court issued a temporary injunction against the mass deportation of tens of thousands of African asylum seekers on Thursday. The decision came in a response to the first major legal challenge to Israel’s deportation plan, and will stay in effect at least another week and a half. If the state’s response satisfies the High Court, however, the deportations could still begin on schedule — April 1. [tmwinpost] While…Read More...
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