Dozens of illegal migrants
from African nations were detained nationwide Monday during an Oz Unit sweep of major cities such as Tel Aviv, Beersheba and Eilat.
The Population and Immigration Authority's force's latest operation, meant to detain illegal migrants ahead of their deportation, was made possible after the Jerusalem Administrative Court granted the State's request to suspend the "collective protection"
status granted to south Sudanese migrants in Israel, effectively sanctioning the deportation of 1,500 migrants.
According to the Immigration Authority, over 55 foreigners – from south Sudan,
Ghana and the Ivory Coast – were detained in the first hours of the sweep, which is set to last several days.
Various aid organizations confirmed that they were informed of multiple detentions.
Suddenness protesting in Tel Aviv (Photo: Reuters)
Interior Minister Eli Yishai
said that the sweeps were "Not meant to be against the infiltrators, but rather to preserve the Zionist and Jewish nature of the State of Israel."
Yishai added that the operation's primary goal was "to return the infiltrators from Eritrea and south Sudan to their countries, despite the difficulties mounted by the so-called human rights groups."
An aid worker in Eilat criticized Oz inspectors, saying that their actions "are causing the refugees to feel extremely unsafe. These are people from war-torn countries, whose life will be in danger if they are sent back to their countries of origin.
"The State hasn't even reviewed their status – it just decided to detain
everyone. Some of them have been here for five, six years and they've been given a week to 'get their affairs in order.' It's absurd."
Any other country in the world, she added, "Would have given them the option of filing for a refugee or asylum seeker status – in accordance to the Geneva Convention. (Israel) just decided to send the, back, like sheep to the slaughter."
Meanwhile, the Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee convened Monday to debate the issue of growing violence against illegal migrants and asylum seekers in Israel.
Representatives of the Foreign, Public Security and Welfare ministries, alongside delegates from the UNHRC and the National Union of Local Authorities attended the meeting.
Oz Unit inspectors in action (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
Late on Monday, the ministerial committee tasked with reviewing the migrant problem will convene as well.
MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima)
warned that, "The State has failed to do its diplomatic due diligence vis-à-vis the UN or the Eritrean government. No one wants to migrate here if they're doing well… It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to send them back, but these events – abusing them like that – that's wrong.
"I've seen case where people where physically hurt. If that's not incitement – what is?" he wondered.
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash)
read testimonies given by teens suspected of assaulting migrants, detailing the violent abuse they had perpetrated. He further deplored the government's actions against them.
MK Danny Danon (Likud),
who strongly advocated deporting all migrants, stressed that "We all condemn violence. No one here supports the 'we're good and they're evil' theory, but we won’t be silenced."
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