The Manhunt Against Asylum Seekers

The government's persecution of African migrants should disturb every Israeli.

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On Monday evening dozens of inspectors from the Population, Immigration and Border Authority raided Levinsky Park in south Tel Aviv, accompanied by police on horseback and Border Police. They caught about 100 African migrants who were put on buses, some by force.

The Authority claims a third of them held visas that are no longer valid, and they were brought to the Saharonim detention facility in the Negev, from which they are supposed to be moved later to the new Holot open detention facility. The rest of the detainees were ordered by the Authority to appear within 30 days at the Holot facility, from which hundreds of other detainees tried to flee last week. If they do not present themselves, they will be jailed and brought there by force. All this happened during the same week that the state shortened the office hours for extending visas for asylum seekers, and reduced the number of places where the permits are granted.

These events cannot be interpreted as anything but a manhunt. When on one hand random raids are conducted, and on the other hand the process of granting visas is shortened and limited, it is hard not to discern the true motivation of the State of Israel: To trap the migrants one way or another, until they despair and can be forced into leaving of their own will.

Instead of implementing the principle of group protection for the refugees who are from Sudan and Eritrea; instead of examining the legal status of each individual and granting the refugees among them work permits and the possibility of leading normal lives in Israel, the government has chosen to exacerbate the racism and fear among the local Israeli population, and endanger the migrants' lives. When the state forbids them to work, it sentences them to hunger and crime; when it kidnaps them on the street, marks them with numbers instead of names, and in the end jails them without trial, it violates their human dignity.

On Thursday the High Court of Justice rejected a petition from human rights organizations for a temporary injunction against the amendment to the Law for the Prevention of Infiltration, even though in September the court ruled that the previous law was unconstitutional. The persecution and incitement of the government against asylum seekers is not just a tragedy for them or just a problem for human rights organizations. These phenomena should sow doubts in the heart of every Israeli.

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