A 12-year-old Sudanese boy who grew up in Israel is facing deportation despite an outpouring of support from the community that adopted him.
The expulsion of the boy, Moses Jacob, and his mother Teresa, 52, has been postponed due to the latter's deteriorating medical condition. But a recent attempt to extend their stay was rejected by the Interior Ministry, which allowed them two weeks to leave the country willingly before being forced to do so.
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"I have been through two eye surgeries in Israel and there is no one in Sudan to take care of me," Teresa said. "The current situation there is still horrible. Every person returning to Sudan reported that the situation there is still dangerous, especially for children.
"Moses will not accept it," she added. "Being deported is very hard on him. It means tearing him apart from his friends and the only county he knows."
Moses and his friend Daniel (Photo: Dalit Cohen)
The boy, whose father died when he was a baby, and his mother arrived in Israel in 2007. Moses then enrolled in an elementary school in Tel Aviv's Ramat Aviv Gimel neighborhood.
In recent months, his school friends and their families have been waging a battle in his support, staging protests and demanding the government to let him stay in Israel. The kids and their parents even wrote letters on his behalf to Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and the immigration authorities, but to no avail.
"Moses integrated wonderfully, taking part in school and after-school activities," said Keren Shomer, a friend of the boy's family. "He is an Israeli kid. We are aware of the refugee problem and we respect the government's decision to send most of them back, but there must be a committee to consider exceptions.
"We are raising money in order to fund Malaria treatments for Moses. He has become a part of our own flesh and blood."
Moses with his mother Teresa (Photo: Adi Steinberg)
Dalit Cohen, whose son, Daniel, is Moses' classmate, said that they boy is very attached to Israeli life.
"Two weeks ago, Moses joined us at a military ceremony where my older son received his beret," she said. "Moses asked me if he would be allowed to be a combat solider as well. I had tears in my eyes as I watched him sing the Israeli anthem. He is not familiar with the Sudanese hymn."
Moses said he is afraid of what will happen to him and his mom if they are deported.
"I would like to join the Israeli Army and become a combat solider," he said. "This country has given me many good things and I wish to give back if only I am given the chance.
"I am pleading with the interior minister: Please let me stay in Israel. I will pay you and the whole country back."
According to the Interior Ministry and the Population and Immigration Authority, Teresa and her son "infiltrated" Israel's border in 2007 and was denied refugee status last month.
"On October 14 she requested assistance in leaving the country willingly," the authorities said. For this reason, it is "puzzling" she continues to fight the deportation, the statement said.
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