Israel Proposing Indefinite Detention of Refugees (Video)

Israel has for the past few years been experiencing an influx of refugees, most from Africa and many from the benighted country of Eritrea.

These refugees cross the Sinai desert and face appalling conditions with slavery reported in camps, hostage taking and potshots taken at them by Egypt’s military. Many have died. A small group of very brave human rights defenders in North Sinai have been working to save hundreds of lives there.

Since the beginning of November, about 950 migrants are known to have illegally made their way into Israel, which is a lot for a country unused to non-Jewish refugees.

In June, a Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) representative told The Jerusalem Post there were now more than 35,000 African migrants in Israel, 80 percent of them Sudanese or Eritrean.

The arrival of refugees in a country built by refugees have resulted in some soul searching.

For nearly 2,000 years, the Jewish people were guests, refugees or asylum-seekers in other peoples’ countries. Sometimes they benefited from their hosts’ good treatment, sometimes they were expelled, discriminated against and persecuted.

Now with a sovereign country of its own the Jewish people must not only serve as a moral example of how developed countries should deal with refugees and asylum-seekers, but also make sure that a strong Jewish majority is maintained in a sovereign Jewish state.

So said the Jerusalem Post in a November 11 Editorial.

Israel has been working on building a fence. And now it is working on a law.

Although it is a signatory to the Refugee Convention, Israel does not have a refugee law. The current law up for amendment is an emergency law, the “Prevention of Infiltration Law,” originally passed in 1954 to cope with the infiltration of Arabs who the state claimed sought to sabotage Israeli security. Now new amendments are being proposed (a prior attempt was withdrawn in July 2010 after harsh public criticism).

Says Sigal Rozen, the Public Policy Coordinator of the Hotline for Migrant Workers:

While the previous bill cynically used a security claim to justify draconian measures against desperate people, the present amendment states clearly that its purpose is deterrence: “The expectation is that the detention period will stop the massive infiltration or at least minimize it,” I have heard countless politicians say.

The amended law will enable the Israeli authorities to hold in administrative detention for up to three years migrant workers and asylum seekers with their children. This is not unusual, although harsh. Australia, for example, also holds asylum seekers in detention for long periods.

However,  anyone who is fleeing from a so-called “enemy” country can be held indefinitely. This can mean those refugees and their children fleeing genocide from the Darfur region of Sudan or gays fleeing Iraq. The proposed bill stipulates that persons originating from such countries or areas are not to be bailed from detention under any conditions.

The law will criminalize what it calls ‘irregular entry’ and makes no provision for those fleeing persecution. The Refugee Convention prohibits the imposition of penalties for illegal entry or presence, where a person has fled a territory because of a risk to their life or freedom.

It creates a summary removal procedure — within 72 hours — without giving the individual an adequate opportunity to challenge their deportation. Those aiding refugees could be criminally prosecuted. There is no distinction made for how children will be treated.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has called the proposed law:

“one of the most dangerous bills ever presented in the Knesset.”

Israel has one of the worst records internationally for accepting asylum seekers. In the past sixty years, it has only accepted 149. Israel also has the lowest percent of requests granted for temporary, not permanent status compared to western states, under 1%.

No Sudanese or Eritreans have ever been accepted as asylum seekers. Israel also does not recognize the coverage of homosexuals under the Refugee Convention under membership of  “a particular social group.” Palestinian gays fleeing persecution and even death are routinely refused asylum and sent back across the border.

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Speaking to a Knesset Committee in 2010, Oscar, a refugee from Congo, criticized the oft-cited idea that the refugees are actually migrant workers:

“Most of the refugees I know who live in south Tel Aviv are indeed refugees who escaped danger,” he said. “We didn’t choose to be refugees. There are many children of Holocaust survivors here (in the committee) who were in a similar state as ours, and therefore they should understand us.”

Writes Jerusalem Post:

Israel, a country created in the wake of the Holocaust to be a national homeland for the Jewish people after nearly two millennia of exile among the nations of the world, has a unique moral responsibility toward refugees and asylum-seekers.

There are no easy answers. But we have an obligation to rise to the challenge.

Video by Physicians for Human Rights.

Related stories:

Israeli Human Rights Groups Say Israel Abused Palestinian Detainees

Israel to Deport Children of Migrant Workers

New Arrests of Gays in Iraq

Photo by runran


Will Rogers
Will Rogers4 years ago

Maybe if Hitler had not killed all the brown Jews, leaving the white ones, their attitudes to blacks would have  been better.
Anyway! Aren't nearly all the people in Israel immigrants? They hate the blacks because they are black. "Swartzers" (derogatory Jewish racist term for blacks)
We just had the Eurovision song contest and Israel is a member. ...Of Europe! I know they're all of European ancestry, but they could at least not flaunt it, their germanness is already too evident in their insistence of building a copy of the Berlin wall and concentration camps such as that outdoor one called Gaza. But that is the objective, to have a white outpost in the middle of the Arabs.
Contrary to public belief, 4000 years ago Moses was NOT going BACK to the promised land. He was trying to find one. That's why it took 40 years! It was a planned military conquest of the Phillistines and their lands. (for Philistines read; Palestinians)
A friend explained the significance of Israel now being a European country, it would mean that jesus is now a white man like what Michelangelo painted instead of being a north African within walking distance of the grain stores of Egypt like Joseph and his 11 brothers, and his aged father Jacob. But history, logic or geography has no place in religion. Even when backed with their own documented evidence. 
That Judaic culture is now based on 18th and 19th century Russian customs, including food, language, dress and music that no one seems to fi

Ira Herson
Ira Herson4 years ago

Frank M the reason you do not want to debate me is that you will not allow facts to get in the way of anti-Semitic rhetoric. Israel is the new Nazis, Israel is evil blah blah blah.

I have never said that he Palestinians have it good. In fact I have stated over and over that they need help and support. I am very pro-Palestinian. I am also pro-Israel. I feel that there is room for both and when you only see one side of the problem you cannot fix it. I do not like the current Israeli government I think that they are very hard line and could do better. But I cannot accept that Hamas should be whitewashed. I think that anyone stupid enough to think that Hamas is working for the benefit of the Palestinian people need to get their head read.

You have called me names and act as though by refusing to acknowledge real facts makes you right. Well I do not feel like replying to you any longer as you have proven to be biased and a bigot.

Frank Mugford
Frank Mugford4 years ago

Oh! And thank you for the star and your post John D.

Frank Mugford
Frank Mugford4 years ago

One thing I won't contemplate is a long exchange of posts with you ira; I've seen your convoluted, nay distorted, machinations aimed at putting Israel in a good light.
Any enlightened thinking person can see that the PR game for Israel is completely lost, has been for a very long time; people like you are merely lengthening the process of bringing the guilty to book.
Nazirael is a Fascist, Apartheid and cruel state; a client state of the US who regularly abuses Palestine and Palestinians with apparent impunity. The obvious lobbying and behind the scenes skull duggery that goes on is monstrous; so many World leaders, institutions and intellectuals condemn Israel's policies and actions that the hypocrisy of the US in supporting its badly behaved teenager in the ME is mind blowing. We do, on the other hand, know what Sarkozy and Obama think of Netanyahu in private!
I advise you to read and consider the thoughts and writings of Avi Schlaim, Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Geoff Halper and so many others, who categorically and consistently put Israeli governments into the wrong. I accuse not the people of Israel but do quote that old adage, 'You get the government you deserve!'
As I said, I wish not to enter into any sort of dialogue with you because you are clearly a Hasbarah spouting fanatic; enough to think that you have got to here and I will not be back to see anymore.

Ira Herson
Ira Herson4 years ago

Frank M
Your issue of Resolution 242 is a little off target. Resolution 242 calls for the mutual recognition of sovereignty of both the Palestinians and Israel.

Hamas representing the people of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority do not singly or jointly recognize Israel's right of existence.

Resolution 242 calls for all parties to work for a peaceful resolution. Hamas has sworn to kill all Jews. (See their charter). Hamas does not recognize Israel and calls for it's destruction but it is Israel that is violating the Resolution 242. Hmm....

Judge Goldstone's findings were that Hamas committed war crimes. He stated that the information that he received about Israel was flawed and renounced his orignial findings. Stating that although Israeli soldiers were guilty of some misconduct, Hamas was guilty of war crimes, using civilians as human shields.

Since the "Cast Lead" operation Israel held inquiries and punished individual soldiers that violated their terms of engagement. Hamas on the other hand continues to target civilians. Some of their latest targets include a school bus killing a child and the driver, several towns killing families.

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Frank M

Thank you for your post!

Frank Mugford
Frank Mugford4 years ago

Please not:- I am Frank M NOT Frank W!!!!!!!!!!

I wouldn't expect anything altruistic or indeed much different from a country that has built an ILLEGAL wall to keep Palestinians from their own land, family, neighbours, crops and much more; from a country that perpetrated operation 'Cast lead' that killed well over 1,000 people, nearly half of them children and for which reports say they should face war crimes; from a country that is racist and routinely practises Apartheid and where this Apartheid, according to Bishop Desmond Tutu, is worse than the Apartheid experienced in South Africa during the worst of their racial problems; where the authorities still apply a collective punishment in Gaza that is categorically banned by the Geneva Convention; where the Israeli subjugation of the Palestinians is complete, detailed, ruthless, cruel and totally unmitigated.
No, I wouldn't expect too much if anything from this or any earlier Israeli governments who have resolutely refused to follow UN Resolution 242 and get off the land they STOLE.
I hope it might be a different response from ordinary Jewish and Israeli Citizens who are not thieves and hawks like so many who have held and now hold power in Israel.

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Loretta K

"Egypt" is trying to kill or enslave them.

Just another example of casual stereotyping and racism.

Loretta K.
Loretta K.4 years ago

Israel has many problems to work out,Israel is very small and can only take so many refugees. I agree with Ira H. that Jordan, Saudi Arabia, And Egypt should absorb some of these refugees. Instead Egypt is trying to kill and enslave them.Perhaps keeping them contained is the best Israel can do right now.

Loretta K.
Loretta K.4 years ago

Israel has many problems to work out,Israel is very small and can only take so many refugees. I agree with Ira H. that Jordan, Saudi Arabia, And Egypt should absorb some of these refugees. Instead Egypt is trying to kill and enslave them.Perhaps keeping them contained is the best Israel can do right now.