Haim Avitan
Hadera Mayor Haim Avitan Photo by Itzik Ben-Malki
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Hadera Mayor Haim Avitan and the city will pay NIS 300,000 to 15 Sudanese asylum seekers who were taken in July 2007 from an area farm and dumped in a Jerusalem park, after the Haifa Magistrate's Court approved last week a settlement between the parties.

The Sudan nationals were arrested and detained after reaching Israel, sometime in 2007, but later released on their own recognizance on condition they live and work on a farm in Moshav Talmei Elazar. The community is within Hadera municipal boundaries. Acting on Avitan's orders, one night in late July city employees came to the moshav, confiscated the group's personal papers and ordered them onto a waiting bus.

The group was ordered off the bus when it reached Liberty Bell Park, in downtown Jerusalem. It was around 3 A.M. Their documents were returned to them.

In their lawsuit, which was filed on their behalf by a Tel Aviv University legal clinic, the asylum seekers argued that the expulsion operation had no legal basis, violated an earlier order allowing them stay at Talmei Elazar and was motivated by racism.

According to the complaint, the group stayed in the park until the following morning, when they received help from the Hotline for Migrant Workers.

When asked at the time to explain his decision, Avitan said: "Hadera is not the country's garbage can. No one coordinated the arrival of the Sudanese with the municipality, and Hadera is not set up to take them in." He added that the decision was made in coordination with the municipality's legal advisers and other departments, and that the bus was stocked with food and water for them.