Israel Plans Giant Detention Center for African Migrants
Israel announced on Thursday its plan to create massive detention centers including over 20,000 tents to hold African migrants before they are deported.
There are tens of thousands of undocumented African migrants in Israel, many of whom are asylum seekers.
Anti-immigrant sentiment has been on full display in recent protests in Tel Aviv. And Interior Minister Eli Yishai told the newspaper Maariv, "The infiltrators along with the Palestinians will quickly bring us to the end of the Zionist dream."
NGOs have criticized the plan to deport the migrants saying that they will be deported to dangerous situations.
One South Sudanese national, a father of two who's resided in Israel for two years, told Haaretz, "I really don't know what to do." Fearing violence, he added, "It's sending people and families to a dangerous place. I'm afraid to go back there with the kids, will they have a future in such place?"
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Agence France-Presse: Israel to put thousands of Africans in detention camp
Israel's interior minister said on Friday he hoped to soon start moving tens of thousands of illegal African migrants from Tel Aviv and elsewhere to a detention camp being built and a planned "tent city."
An Israeli court cleared the way on Thursday for the deportation of an estimated 1,500 South Sudanese, after ruling that their lives were no longer threatened in their homeland.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai told public radio 40,000 Sudanese and Eritreans were next in his sights.
"There are still about 15,000 from north Sudan and some 35,000 from Eritrea," he said. "I am not allowed to get them out at the moment."
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Israel’s Defense Ministry announced Thursday that it will erect between 20,000-25,000 tents for African migrants at various detention centers by the end of the year.
According to an official statement, the Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces will build the tent cities in five different detention centers within a matter of months. Once built, the centers will be run by the Israel Prison Service.
Three of those detention centers will be built near the Ketziot prison in the near future, and will be connected to water, electric and sewage infrastructures which the Defense Ministry have been building over the last several weeks.
The objective of the plan, according to the ministry, is to ensure that all African migrants who enter Israel will be directly transferred to a detention center where they will stay for long periods of time, in order to prevent their entry to Israeli cities.
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Rejecting a petition by human rights groups that had delayed the interior ministry's deportation order of 1 April, the Jerusalem district court ruled the state was not obligated to extend de facto asylum to the estimated 1,500 migrants from South Sudan. [...]
The Israeli government sees the migrants as an economic and demographic threat to the country's already ethnically strained population of 7.8 million, and anti-African street protests in urban centres have turned increasingly violent.
But while Israel says the vast majority came illegally to work, humanitarian agencies argue many of the migrants should be considered as refugees with asylum rights.
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Many migrants who take refuge in Israel are fleeing from war or persecution in their countries of origin, but very few are granted official refugee status by the government. Many live on temporary visas and subsist on menial jobs.
African immigrants have become the target of many protests recently in Israeli society. They are blamed for rising crime and violence in the country.
All of the migrant workers caught by the Israeli authorities so far have been transferred to Saharonim detention center which has a capacity of 2,000 spaces. The Interior Ministry predicts the center will reach maximum capacity next month and a currently working on expanding it to accommodate 5,400.
A migrant home was torched on Sunday night, trapping 10 Eritrean migrant workers inside, two of whom were injured. Graffiti was found at the scene that read “leave the neighborhood,” raising suspicions of arson.
Tel Aviv has played host to anti-immigrant demonstrations over the last couple of weeks, thousands taking to the streets demanding the expulsion of all asylum-seekers and immigrants.