Jail All African Refugees Says Israel’s Interior Minister

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African refugees in Israel

Eli tours a prison camp for African refugees

AFRICANGLOBE – “They’ve painted us as if, heaven forbid, [we were creating] refugee camps,” Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai complained recently. “The facilities are almost finished and now I’m in a battle with the human rights organizations and the [state’s] prosecution. I don’t agree that it’s impossible to return [people] to Eritrea and northern Sudan, and if I did accept this there would be hundreds of thousands more.…”

“After we’ve put them in the detention facilities they’ll prefer to leave. There will be a detention facility and they will be returned to their own countries and to other countries, if we are determined and we recognize that the State of Israel is in existential danger because of this problem. Then everything will be different. With God’s help, it will be possible to continue this national mission and return every last infiltrator and migrant worker to their own countries,” Interior Minister Eli Yishai said at a conference at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, Ha’aretz reported.

Despite Yishai’s draconian, hate filled desires, the Justice Ministry recently stated in court that the government never adopted a policy like Yishai’s and will not permit the implementation of one.

“They’ve painted us as if, heaven forbid, [we were creating] refugee camps,” Yishai complained. “The facilities are almost finished and now I’m in a battle with the human rights organizations and the [state’s] prosecution. I don’t agree that it’s impossible to return [people] to Eritrea and northern Sudan, and if I did accept this there would be hundreds of thousands more. Just as it’s possible to deport to South Sudan, it’s possible to deport to northern Sudan,” he said. “If there’s a war there [in South Sudan], there’s also one there [in Sudan], and if there isn’t [a war in South Sudan], then there isn’t [in Sudan]. Why is Eritrea out, but South Sudan is okay?”

Saharonim prison

Israel’s Saharonim concentration camp for Africans

International law and treaties signed by Israel prohibit the deportation of refugees from unstable war zones and to countries in which they would likely be imprisoned, tortured or killed. Northern Sudan and Eritrea are among those countries.

Israel grants these refugees exemption from deportation but refuses to evaluate their individual requests for asylum – itself a violation of international law and treaties Israel signed.

Israel does nothing to help them survive in Israel, forcing many to sleep in parks and on beaches or in dangerously overcrowded flop houses with other in-limbo refugees.

African refugees often work at menial jobs, are paid in cash at below minimum wage, and are frequently cheated and exploited by their employers.

Despite the clear danger to many of these refugees deportation would pose, Yishai vehemently attacked the government’s decision to even partially abide by the treaties it signed and to follow international law by extending blanket protection to all refugees from Eritrea and Sudan – euphemistically called migrants by people like Yishai who want to deport them – who make up more than 80 percent of all refugees entering Israel.

Yishai also attacked fellow cabinet ministers, who he said “want to pose as bleeding hearts to look good for the media. I had to choose between [that and] being good for the State of Israel, so I came out bad in the media,” Yishai reportedly said.

Former Military Advocate General Avishai Mendelblit also spoke at the conference. Mendelblit attacked Israel’s policy of granting group protection from deportation to refugees from Eritrea and Sudan. Because of it, the government does not examine their refugees’ individual asylum requests.

“If you don’t check the status of these people and just tell them all ‘no’ in advance, then of course they’ll come to you with complaints, and rightly, because you have to check first [before denying them],” Mendelblit said, noting that Israel is violating its commitments under international law and under the treaties it signed by not evaluating each refugee’s request for asylum.