Photo: Ofer Amram
Mayor Haim Avitan
Complaint filed against Hadera mayor for expelling refugees
Hotline for migrant workers files police complaint against abduction of refugees from Hadera and their expulsion to Jerusalem in the dead of night. City workers threatened refugees with firearms and forced them to violate court order determining they must stay in Hadera. City denies claims
The Hotline for Migrant Workers filed charges against Hadera Mayor Haim Avitan on Tuesday following the expulsion of Sudanese refugees from the city.
The hotline workers claim that the refugees were residing in the city on court orders and were in fact forbidden to leave the municipal limits, making the mayor's expulsion of them illegal. The group had been employed by a local orchard.
The charges against the mayor accuse him of abusing his position, breaching trust, kidnapping, unnecessary incarceration and trespassing.
According to the complaint, Hadera city inspectors broke into the home of 18 Sudanese refugees in July, some six months into their employment by local farmer Ezra Tzadok. After infiltrating across the border into Israel, the refugees were interviewed extensively by UN representatives who verified that they were without a doubt Sudanese fleeing persecution and as such were released from detainment.
The city workers allegedly roused the refugees in the middle of the night and instructed them to board a bus, all while threatening the group with weapons. The group was then driven to Jerusalem and abandoned in a public park in the city. The migrant hotline stressed that because of the city's actions the refugees unwillingly violated the terms of their parole from detainment.
The Hadera municipality responded to the charges: "The mayor acted in accordance with the law and any attempt to sully the rule of law through fraudulent police charges will not deter the mayor from acting against illegal intruders in the city.
"The court issued an order banning the housing of people in the structures the refugees were living in like slaves, and without any aid from the Hotline for Migrant Workers. The refugees are not the problem of the city of Hadera but rather the State of Israel's. The mayor and the people of Hadera will prevent the invasion of Sudanese refugees into the city using any available means."