South Tel Avivians: Illegal Immigrants Cause 'Anarchy and Violence' in Our City

Plea to Sara Netanyahu comes day before prime minister's wife to meet with interior minister to discuss deportation of 400 children of migrant workers

A group of south Tel Aviv residents yesterday called on the prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, to see the "anarchy and violence" wreaked by the illegal immigrants in the city's southern neighborhoods. She is to meet Interior Minister Eli Yishai today to discuss the cabinet decision to deport some 400 children of foreign workers.

The group, which calls itself the Committee to Get Illegal Aliens Out of South Tel Aviv, wrote to Sara Netanyahu following her plea to Yishai last week to revoke the deportation.

Migrant workers from Africa at the Tel Aviv central bus station.
Nir Keidar

"The failure to enforce immigration laws has brought anarchy and violence to south Tel Aviv neighborhoods," the committee wrote. "We feel the state has abandoned us. ... We and our children are afraid to go out into the street for fear of being attacked by some drunk. The thousands of infiltrators living in our neighborhoods have created a reality of insufferable lawlessness."

Signatories include rabbis, realtors, Tel Aviv city council member Shlomo Maslawi (Likud ) and Corinne Tsaidi, whose mother, Esther Galili, was murdered by a Sudanese national near the city's central bus station some six months ago.

Yishai, who has called the migrant workers a danger to "the Zionist enterprise," said he would meet Sara Netanyahu today but would not change his mind about deporting the children and could not alter the deportation edict issued by her husband's cabinet.

The cabinet decided two weeks ago to allow 800 children of migrant workers to remain in the country - those who have lived here for at least five years and meet several other criteria - but deport the remaining 400.

"As a psychologist ... and the mother of two children, I beg you to use your authority to allow most of the 400 children to stay in Israel," Sara Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Yishai on Friday. "This issue is very close to my heart."

Interior Ministry officials said yesterday that Yishai "will consult Mrs. Netanyahu and ask her to send a message to the families and aid organizations about the severe impact of separating families and children and discuss ways to give emotional support to the children who are forced to leave."

The group in favor of the deportations is also behind recent statements by rabbis and realtors in the area calling on residents not to rent apartments to illegal aliens or migrant workers.