The Israeli plan on migrants: voluntary expulsion or jail

For many Africans driven by hunger, war or lack of freedom or all three of these curses together, even Israel is an earthly paradise. It happened so that over the years, through the Egyptian desert, they have crossed the border of Sinai to seek fortune or simply a new life. But now Israel refuses them, push them back towards that adverse destiny from which they come. 2018 opened with a government plan to expel about 38,000 migrants who arrived in Israel between 2006 and 2012, before a 220-kilometer barrier was completed at the border with Egypt in 2012. 70% are Eritreans fleeing from a dictatorship, and 20% are Sudanese, mostly from Darfur and escaped from genocide.

The plan proposed by Netanyahu involves thousands of people living in Israel for ten years and has two options: “voluntarily” accepting expulsion from the country in exchange for $ 3,500, or being forcibly transferred to a detention center for a indefinitely. The first notices were delivered to about 20 thousand people, they will have two months to leave the country before risking going to jail.

epa06502516 African asylum seekers and Israelis hold signs during a protest against the African migrants deportations outside the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya, Israel, 07 February 2018. The Israeli Population and Immigration Authority launched a massive departure program ‘voluntary leave’ intended to pay each refugee 3,500 US dollars in exchange for leaving the country back to Africa, those who refuse will be imprisoned. Some 38,000 African asylum seekers live in Israel. EPA/ABIR SULTAN

The Premier say illegal workers are a real threat to the country

Since 1 May 2017, the Israeli government has approved a special provision, known as the “Deposit Law”, which obliges employers to withhold 20% of the monthly salary of all Eritreans and Sudanese employees who entered the country illegally from Egyptian border, reside today in Israel regularly, thanks to a temporary visa. The sum is deposited by the government in a special account, together with another tax, of 16%, paid directly by the entrepreneurs. The amount of the account, according to the provision, remains blocked and can only be returned once the country has been abandoned. To make sure that asylum seekers really leave Israel, the only bank authorized in the entire state to make the payment is the Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, in the branch of the international airport of Tel Aviv.

“The influx of illegal workers who infiltrate from Africa is a real threat to the country’s Jewish and democratic character“. This is the statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also added “none of the migrants who are part of the plan is a political refugee, they are people without a regular permit”. A part of the local population seems to agree with the government. The motivations are always the same: some people have said they are afraid that migrants will increase crime and others that their presence will weaken the Jewish state. Israel’s economy is growing rapidly, unemployment is at a very low level and if anything, labor is needed in the country. The presence of 38 thousand migrants is unlikely to transform the identity of a population of almost 9 million.

Israel has been created by refugees, this among many protests against the plane

The plan is generally highly contested and has contributed to the internal political divisions between nationalists and non-nationalists, who insist that Israel itself has been created by refugees and Holocaust survivorsThe latter, along with a group of academics and intellectuals, wrote an open letter to Netanyahu, saying: “We who know what it means to be a refugee, what it means to be without a home and a state that protects us from violence and suffering, we can’t understand how a Jewish government can expel refugees and asylum seekers to suffering, pain and death “.

Condemnation to death” and “deportation” are the words imprinted on the protest banners and shouted in the marches that in a State such as Israel have a certain effect. Several activists and some rabbis have created a movement inspired by Anne Frank (Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement) to support African migrants: they are trying to set up a protection program, several awareness campaigns and have come to affirm that if the government it will not stop to hide the migrants threatened with expulsion in their homes. The Israeli government has insisted that its expulsion policy doesn’t violate international law and that migrants will not be sent back to war-torn countries.

However, the human rights groups argue that the Netanyahu government has hampered the recognition of asylum status and that out of 15 thousand practices presented only 11 have been approved, less than 1%, and only 200 Sudanese have been granted international protection .Of the 38,000 are in prison in 1,420. They will have a lot of company soon, if the expulsion plan will not work. Expulsions that, guaranteed the government, will be “voluntary” and will not affect children, the elderly and victims of slavery or trafficking. But it is difficult to talk about “voluntary” deportations, if the alternative is jail.

African migrants hold posters and one holds an Eritrean flag during a protest outside Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Thousands of African migrants demanded to be recognized as refugees in a protest Wednesday outside of Israel’s parliament, part of a series of events showing the migrants’ growing frustration with their fate in Israel. Police said more than 10,000 migrants rallied outside the Knesset, with hundreds more continuing to stream in to Jerusalem from around the country. The migrants have staged two other mass protests in Tel Aviv where they have demanded the right to work and better treatment from the Israeli government. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Migrants will be deported to Rwanda, with or without agreement

Benjamin Netanyahu said it will be a safe destination in an African country. Most migrants would be welcomed by Rwanda with which the State of Israel would enter into a special secret agreement. Faced with the mobilization of the NGOs and the fuss raised by the affair, the Rwandan government through the deputy foreign minister Olivier Nduhungirehe denied with a tweet the existence of such an agreement with Israel.

There is no security in Rwanda. Many of them risk death. Those who have already been expelled from Israel have been exposed to threats including kidnapping, torture and human trafficking. Even there they are forced to live as refugees. Only a few of them will succeed in reaching a safe country. 

Today we are witnessing the highest levels of migration ever recorded. 65.6 million people worldwide, an unprecedented number, have been forced to flee their country. Of these, around 22.5 million are refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless persons who have been denied a nationality and access to fundamental rights such as education, health, work and freedom of movement. The migration of peoples that has always been a natural social phenomenon and today strengthened by a thousand factors, finds increasingly useless resistance.