Students, basketball players or migrant laborers? A group of 15 students from Guinea who came to Israel in the framework of the Academic Sports Association's basketball tournament, have disappeared after entering the country.
According to the Immigration Authority, this case is a continuation of the trend of infiltration into the country under the guise of sport.
On Tuesday afternoon, a flight from Guinea landed at Ben Gurion International Airport and 15 students alighted. They had received special permission to enter the country so that they could participate in the tournament in Eilat, which is hosting students from around the world including a Palestinian team.
Upon landing, they were transferred to a hostel in Tel Aviv, and were expected to fly to Eilat Wednesday morning. But they decided they weren't interesting in sleeping at the hostel – and disappeared, together with their personal belongings. When they failed to turn up for the flight, the Interior Ministry and Immigration Authority started a search. The Ministry said that for the moment they are not in the country legally, but are violating the terms of the permit to enter as athletes.
"Unfortunately, this trend is growing," said Immigration Authority Director-General Amnon Ben Ami. "In the last few months, we see many people from Africa taking advantage of our openness and coming into the country under the guise of tourists or athletes, intending to stay here. The Immigration Authority allows them to enter in order to enable sporting events and allow all students to take part."