The deportation of workers and refugees who are staying in Israel illegally, along with their children, is scheduled to begin soon, unless the government decides otherwise.
A number of human rights groups sent a letter to the government ministers Wednesday urging them to take action to prevent the deportation.
In the letter, the organizations asked the ministers to support Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar's proposal that until an arrangement regulating the children's status is reached, no actions will be taken to deport them or their families.
'Regulate children's status immediately' (Photo: Ohad Zeugenberg)
"The ministers should heed the public's call and protect the children," a representative of the groups told Ynet.
According to the letter, the children in question are part of a small group of children of immigrant workers and asylum seekers who have integrated into the Israeli education system and Israeli society.
"The planned enforcement operations will tear the children, whose language is Hebrew and whose culture is our culture, from the only country most of them have ever known. Children will be taken from their homes and placed in detention facilities," the letter read.
'The public has spoken'
The Hotline for Immigrant Workers told Ynet that since the possibility children will be deported was published, they have received hundreds of calls from people from across the political spectrum who oppose the plan. "The public has spoken loud and clear – people do not want to see Israeli children being arrested."
Eilsheva Minekovsky of ASSAF, the Israeli Organization for Aid to Refugees and Asylum Seekers, said: "We are appalled by the planned move to arrest refugee families with children and leave them in prison. These are refugees that have gone through horrors before they arrived in Israel, and it is unacceptable that the State of Israel should treat them this way."
'Let us stay in Israel' (Photo: Plomba)
Attorney Oded Feller of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel added, "Deporting children is inhumane. The government ignores the fact that most of these children were born in Israel, go to school in Israel and speak Hebrew.
"The government of Israel must refrain from arresting these children, who did nothing wrong, and regulate their status in the only country they consider home as soon as possible."
The Israeli Children organization announced it will be holding a rally against the deportation on Saturday, August 1, the same date that the deportation operation is scheduled to commence.
Yishai to try and resolve issue
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said he plans to convene a meeting on Sunday, immediately following the cabinet meeting in the morning, to address the issue.
Representatives of the government's legal bureau, the Immigration Administration and the Oz Unit, as well as the ministry's director general have been invited to attend the meeting.
"I decided to try and find out whether there are alternatives that do not require legislation and long-term steps to resolve the problem of the refugees' children," said Yishai.
The minister added that he has instructed his ministry officials and the Immigration Administration to be extra sensitive when handling the issue of children. "A child should not suffer because of his parents' illegal actions," he explained.