Migrant worker
Hiwan, an immigrant from Eritrea, who was given two weeks to leave her apartment. Photo by Tali Mayer
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Illegal immigrants living in the Pardes Katz neighborhood of Bnei Brak say they have been ordered to leave town immediately.

The migrants told Haaretz that in recent days municipal inspectors, accompanied by other government officials, notified them that foreigners are not allowed to live in Bnei Brak. The inspectors have visited dozens of apartments in the city where officials suspect that the premises have been illegally subdivided to accommodate foreign migrants.

This comes on the heels of a campaign announced by the municipality earlier this month to stop landlords in the city from renting to illegal immigrants. Several rabbis have made similar appeals. Some migrants have reported that their electricity and water have recently been cut off without prior notice after their landlords told them they must evacuate the premises. One Eritrean migrant said a notice was posted on his apartment door summoning his landlord to a hearing over suspected violations of the building codes and for renting premises to illegal migrants which are not fit for habitation and that constitute a public hazard. He said he was given a week to vacate the premises.

The Bnei Brak municipality said in response: "The inspectors working in the neighborhood made it clear they were not conducting negotiations and discussions with the illegal tenants but only with the landlords who subdivided apartments illegally and collected double and multiple rents by renting subdivided, tiny apartments to Sudanese [migrants] rather than to just one family. The instructions to the inspectors are just to locate illegally subdivided apartments. Even if a subdivided apartment is found to have been rented to Israelis, action is taken against the landlord."

The municipality said the inspectors are accompanied by police and representatives of the Oz immigration police unit, which deals with illegal migrants. The municipality added: "Those landlords demanding that their tenants leave and those who have cut off electricity to those who refuse to leave have no connection to the municipality. That is a legal matter to be handled by lawyers. The municipality also does not check the occupants' legal residency status and documentation, but rather, just the matter of the subdivision of the apartments, which is a violation of the planning and building laws."