"Israel must work towards reaching agreements with the migrants' home countries and send them back. Those who remain as refugees should be treated humanely," Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor (Likud) told Ynet amid a surge in violence in areas that are heavily populated by African migrants – mainly in south Tel Aviv.
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Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan (Likud) also claimed the illegal migrants' should not be "expelled," but simply "returned" to their countries of origin.
Minister Aharonovitch tours south TA (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
The minister said that during a recent tour of south Tel Aviv he noticed that the "lives of tens of thousands of Israelis had changed dramatically.
"They feel as though they do not live in the State of Israel anymore," Erdan said. "Despite the humane manner in which we want to treat the poor refugees who have suffered so much in their countries, as a minister I am committed to the well-being of (Israel's) citizens."
Erdan continued to say that "not all (migrants) are violent and not all of them are alcoholics, but a social problem has been created, and it is our responsibility to solve it. Many of the migrants do not work, and this leads to phenomena that may deteriorate to violence."
Both ministers said the short-term solution calls for increased police presence on city streets, but Meridor stressed that the recent wave of violence "is not related to the migrants, but to Israeli society" as a whole.
Erdan called for legislation that would allow Israel to send those who try to enter the country illegally back to their home countries. "It must be understood that they fled poverty and despair, and we should by no means expel them, but we must send them back or else poverty and despair will grow here as well," he said. "We should (send back) tens of thousands in a humane manner - with some economic aid."
Meridor also called for the completion of the border fence along Israel's border with Egypt as soon as possible. "This is the fundamental solution to the problem," he said.
Erdan warned that tens of thousands of migrants may cross the border in the coming months. "As soon as a fence is erected, the flow of refugees will stop," he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the issue during his visit to the Czech Republic, saying "we are not against foreign workers; we are against illegal infiltrators. Our policy calls to first of all stop the flood. Israel's success attracts masses from Africa. The (border) fence will be completed in a few months."
The PM said it is estimated that there are currently between 60,000 and 70,000 migrants in Israel, but warned that "it could easily reach 600,000 or 700,000. The repercussions for a small country such as Israel are strategic."
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