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Tens of Thousands of Migrants Rally in Israel for Rights

'Instead of considering us refugees, Israel treats us like criminals.'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

African migrants take part in a protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Sunday. (Photo: Reuters/Nir Elias)Tens of thousands of African migrants held their biggest rally to date in Tel Aviv on Sunday to protest Israel's refusal to grant them refugee status and new law that allows them to be detained without trial.

"We are all refugees," and "Yes to freedom, no to prison!" the marchers chanted.

Joining the 30,000-strong march were Israeli rights activists.

“We came from all over the country, from Ashdod, Haifa, Netanya, all over," the Jerusalem Post quotes Darfur native Anwar Suliman as saying.  "We wanted to be together because our situation has gotten so bad and we need the country to examine our asylum requests and not keep placing us in the detention centers.”

Another demonstrator, an Eritrean cited with only his first name, Dawud, told Agence France-Presse, "We have fled persecution, dictatorships, civil wars and genocides."

 "Instead of considering us refugees, Israel treats us like criminals," Dawud said.

The rally was held on the first of a three-day national action declared by the community.

Protests over Israel's treatment of migrants including their indefinite incarceration have been ongoing.

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