Israel's High Court Delays Decision on African Migrants Trapped on Border

Intermediate ruling orders IDF to continue to provide food, water, and medical aid for a group of 21 Eritrean refugees, sets continuation hearing for next week.

The Israeli High Court of Justice failed to reach a decision on Thursday, concerning the fate of the 21 Eritrean migrants currently stuck between fences on the Israel-Egypt border, postponing its decision for Sunday.

The High Court added that it understood from the state's representatives that Israel Defense Forces soldiers currently stationed by the border are supplying the Eritrean migrants with water, food, and medical attention, if it is necessary.

The court was convened to discuss the petition of an Israeli NGO, which Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Interior Minister Eli Yishai clarify why they have been denying the migrants' entry to Israel.

Earlier on Thursday, Israel Police barred members of an Israeli physicians' NGO from providing aid to the group of migrants, who have been trapped between the fences on the Israeli-Egyptian border for roughly a week.

On Wednesday, the envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Israel William Tall called on Israel to grant immediate entry to a group of 21 Eritrean refugees, telling Haaretz that Israel could not "simply shut the door" and must allow them in and process their claims for asylum.

"The most worrying thing to me is the discussion of pushing them back into Egypt, which is highly irresponsible, because if they go back to Egypt there is a high risk these people will fall in the hands of human smugglers, and it is well known, it is all documented, that many of these people have been abused, there are cases of torture or rape, and if you send them back you are sending them to a situation with a very high degree of insecurity," Tall said.

Continuing, Tall said that Israel and the Israel Defense Forces have stated that they have stopped the policy of "hot returns," or, returing the migrants to Egypt as soon as they are apprehended. According to Tall, not allowing the refugees between the fences is "basically the same thing."