Less than a week before the new school year is set to begin, parents in Israel's
southern city of Eilat
are threatening to hold a strike in the city's schools. The reason: A Beersheba District Court decision on the integration of illegal migrants' children
in the city education system.
The migrants called the threat insulting and racist.
Local parents launched a battle immediately after the court handed down its ruling; the city's parents' committee forum decided that if there is no change in the court's position, the committee would call on Eilat's parents to keep their children at home.
Yinrot with her two children (Photo: Meir Ohayon)
In a letter distributed among the parents, the forum members noted that it was their intention to take emergency measures to prevent the integration of the children in the classrooms.
Yinrot Gat and her family escaped Sudan with her children. After submitting a humanitarian request with the Interior Ministry, the family received permission to remain in Israel.
Yet the conditions they are living in and the Eilati locals' decision to prevent their integration in the local school system has forced them to consider the option of going back to Sudan.
"In Tel Aviv
the Sudanese children go to local schools, why won't Eilat allow us (to do so)?" Yinrot asked angrily.
She went on to say: "It is very insulting, if this continues and we won't have a school, we will have no choice but to return to the country where my children were born. We can't just sit here uselessly when the children aren't going to school. I'd rather suffer there than suffer here. There I can try to work, here – even that I can't do."
Her son Dabul adds: "It's very hurtful that we are treated this way, it's racism...I want to go to school with everyone not feel like a dog."
Mansur Ashkar, who, together with his friends assists local illegal migrants, noted that "if there was a similar story in a different country everyone would say it was anti-Semitism."
Orit Rabin of the ASSAF Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel noted that "it is understable that people are concerned, but the price of giving in to your fears is very high.
"If people open their eyes for just a minute and look at what they're saying they will understand that they are being racist and prejudiced even if that isn't their intention. "