Israel’s well-laid plans to deport tens of thousands of African invaders pretending to be refugees has run into a serious legal challenge with a court declaring that Eritreans have the right to asylum in that county after all—just as Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister declared that the Africans are “terrorizing” South Tel Aviv.
The first sign of trouble came with the news that an Israeli appeals court ruled that Eritreans face a “well-founded fear of persecution” in their home countries and should receive “refugee” status in Israel.
The court decision flies in the face of official government policy, and it will take some weeks for the Israeli government to work out an adequate response.
The court said that Eritreans who deserted military service in their home country and came to Israel have grounds to be considered “asylum seekers.”
“There is a well-founded fear of persecution because of political opinion ascribed to him by the authorities in his country as a result of his desertion from military service,” the decision said, describing the plight of a typical deserter from the Eritrean military who fled to Israel.
About 72 percent of the 38,000 African invaders in Israel are Eritrean, and 20 percent are Sudanese. The vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012, at which stage Israel completed its southern border wall and halted the invasion.
The Eritreans have already had their asylum requests rejected by Israel’s Interior Ministry because the government did not consider Eritrean army desertion grounds for asylum.
They were told earlier in February that they have 60 days to accept an offer to leave the country for an unnamed African destination—known through press reports to be Rwanda—in exchange for $3,500 and a plane ticket. Those who don’t leave by April 1 will be incarcerated indefinitely.
The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has said about 4,000 Africans were deported from Israel to Rwanda between 2013 and 2017. However, only seven remain in Rwanda, according to the UNHCR, with many heading for Europe.
Mainly due to the court decision, the weekend deadline for the first group of 200 Africans to choose between deportation and imprisonment, passed without action, the Times of Israel reported.
Meanwhile, the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), has told the Knesset State Control Committee meeting on the issue of African “asylum seekers” that South Tel Aviv is living under a “reign of terrorism from illegal migrants.”
“Israel is trying to do our best, we’re a small country, and we cannot absorb large waves of immigration,” said Hotovely.
“Like any sovereign nation, we need to decide who can come in and come out. I don’t regret saying that south Tel Aviv is terrorized by infiltrators who are driving up crime rates and sexual harassment and making the streets unsafe for Israelis.”