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Tens of Thousands of African Migrants Demonstrate in Tel Aviv

Translated Monday 6 January 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

Over 30,000 African asylum-seekers, who entered Israel clandestinely, demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Jan. 5 against the Israeli government’s enforcement of a freedom-killing law aimed at them, and demanding recognition of their status as refugees.

“Yes to political asylum, no to prison!” chanted the demonstrators according to Radio France International’s reporter in Israel. Over 30,000 migrants who entered Israel clandestinely shouted their anger at the Israeli government. They are condemning the Israeli authorities’ refusal to consider their requests for refugee status and the enforcement of a law, since December 10, which forces them to sleep in supposedly open detention centers and to check in three times a day. The left-wing party Meretz says it is a freedom-killing law. In addition, left-wing members of parliament have filed a case before the Israeli supreme court.

“We’ve fled persecution, dictatorship, civil war and genocide. The Israeli government has got to examine our requests for asylum and has got to treat us like human beings,” Daoud, an Eritrean who entered Israel illegally four years ago, told Agence France Presse. Daoud, who requested that he not be identified “for security reasons,” added that a march to the offices of the UN high commissioner for refugees and to the foreign embassies in Tel Aviv is scheduled for Jan. 6. “Instead of considering us to be refugees, the Israeli government treats us like criminals,” he said.

In accordance with a law voted on December 10, clandestine immigrants can be detained for up to a year without trial.

Israel puts the number of Africans who have entered the country clandestinely at 60,000, and has launched a campaign that has resulted in the departure or deportation of nearly 4,000 of them. Simultaneously, in 2013 Israel completed an electrified fence along its 150-mile Egyptian border, and this has reduced illegal entries to practically nil. Last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he is “determined” to deport “the tens of thousands of clandestine migrants” living in Israel’s cities.

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