The new directive allows asylum seekers who are suspected of committing a crime and are prepared to leave of their own 'free will' to do so. However, the directive sparked the criticism of human rights activists who said that those incarcerated in the Saharonim detention center were forced to sign 'willful emigration' papers, and did not do so willingly.
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On Sunday, a meeting was held in the Prime Minister's Office regarding the issue of asylum seekers and infiltrators into Israel. Among those present were Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Internal Security Minister Itzhak Aharonovitch and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that "there are no longer any infiltrators penetrating Israel's cities – not in Tel Aviv, not in Arad, not in Eilat, not anywhere."
'Infiltrators cause tensions' (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
"We are now progressing in our mission to return the infiltrators that are here."
"We are undertaking this mission in line with all legal and international standards, working both with resolve and responsibility. We have decided to deport them and have already deported thousands, and will continue to do so in every city in Israel. There are serious crime problems there (in the cities) as well as tension surrounding employment and welfare."
Saharonim detention center (Photo: Amit Megal)
At the beginning of the meeting, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch revealed new details regarding the implementation of the new directive which allows the State to imprison asylum seekers suspected of a crime without trial; the decision was taken in wake of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decision to allow the policy to apply to low level misdemeanors.
The procedure is meant to find out whether someone held in custody is interested in returning to his country of origin.
According to Aharonovitch, since the policy has been put in place, some 14 asylum seekers have been jailed. The minister further added that his ministry has prepared a list of around 1,000 additional foreign nationals who can now be jailed as part of the new directive.
Reut Michaeli, the Executive Director at Hotline for Migrant Workers, slammed the new directive, saying "Calling the deportations happening today 'willful emigration' is cynical and immoral. These deportations are not happening of the refugees' own accord, but are rather being coerced and solicited from asylum seekers jailed in harsh conditions for months or years without even a sliver of hope, being forced to sign a document of 'willful emigration'."
"Their signing of the document was coerced under the threat that their request of refugee status would not be accepted and that they would be forced to spend a long time in the prison."
O., an activist from Tel Aviv's southern Tikva neighborhood said that the "the term infiltrators is misleading. It is an umbrella term meant to denote non-Jewish immigrant of African origin, despite the difference between migrant workers illegally entering the country and asylum seekers illegally entering the country pending legal recognition of their refugee status."
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