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Israeli Cabinet OKs plan to stanch flow of illegal African migrants

By Associated Press   JERUSALEM — The Israeli Cabinet voted unanimously Sunday to finance a $160 million program to stanch the flow of illegal African migrants by stepping up construction of a border fence and expanding a

By Associated Press


JERUSALEM — The Israeli Cabinet voted unanimously Sunday to finance a $160 million program to stanch the flow of illegal African migrants by stepping up construction of a border fence and expanding a detention center to hold thousands of new arrivals.Some 50,000 Africans, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, have illegally entered southern Israel since 2006 through the porous border with Egypt’s Sinai desert, according to government estimates.

The influx has sparked a national debate. Some Israelis fear the mounting non-Jewish arrivals will compromise the state’s Jewish character. Critics also claim the migrants are an economic and social burden. But others don’t want their country, which grew out of the Nazi genocide of Jews, to turn away people escaping persecution or conflict.


Addressing the Cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the swelling stream of migrants is “a national scourge.” Netanyahu, like other officials, said the overwhelming majority of infiltrators are not refugees escaping persecution, but instead have come to Israel seeking better economic opportunities.

“If we don’t take action to stanch this illegal flow, then we will simply be inundated,” he said. He said he would explore the possibility of repatriating some of the economic migrants when he visits Africa next year. Israel already has repatriated hundreds of Africans.

Migrant advocates contend the Africans are bona fide refugees and should be granted asylum. They accuse the government of ignoring the retribution most of the migrants face should they return home.

“Across the world, 88 percent of Eritrean migrants who seek asylum are recognized as refugees,” said Reut Michaeli, an attorney for The Hotline for Migrant Workers. “I find it very difficult to believe that the ones who come to Israel are any different.”

But Israeli officials believe the overwhelming majority have come in search of work. They said the purpose of the government plan is to make it as difficult as possible for them to work.

The centerpiece of the plan involves expedited completion of a border fence with Egypt that is also meant to keep out militants. In August, militants crossed the border and killed eight Israelis. The fence, which is to stretch the entire length of the roughly 150 mile (250-kilometer) border, is to be complete by October.

Israel also plans to build a detention center that could house thousands of migrants and expand a prison that is currently housing some of the Africans. Legislation is planned to lengthen detention times, from 60 days to a maximum of three years. And employers who hire illegal migrants will face stiffened fines as much as $18,000.

Elements of the plan were approved last year but funding for the overall program was not authorized until Sunday.

The Africans began trickling into Israel after neighboring Egypt violently quashed a demonstration by a group of Sudanese refugees in 2005, killing at least 20. The number of migrants surged as word spread of safety and job opportunities in the relatively prosperous Jewish state.

They have congregated in several cities, but a lack of a coherent government policy has led to the creation of slums and frictions with locals who claim the migrants have brought crime and harassment of women.

Officials hope the border fence with Egypt will keep most migrants out. The detention center is meant to let Israel round up migrants without running afoul of international law, which requires governments to feed and shelter migrants — or let them work — while their status is being processed.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source:Washington Post

Review overview
  • HGDF December 12, 2011

    What do we as Eritreans lose when Israel closes its doors? Nothing but the theft of body organs of innocent Eritreans, the crockodile tears of the Weyane agents in the name of the innocent victims, one door closed for the Weyane agents who misslead the youth by saying “here is the way to Kenean/the Land of Honey and milk”

    • Semhar December 12, 2011

      The real solution to stop the flow of ERITREAN immigrant to ISRAEL is to train Eritreans in Israel to liberate their land and their people from the tyrant regime and his followers PFDJ (HIGDEF Medef).

      • HGDF December 12, 2011

        Before you train them get yourself trained

      • sem December 12, 2011


        My sister our government trained us and we know how to fight now what we really need is a chance just like you to work and help our family , that’s the only reason why we left our country. hopefully you made enough money so now you can get the train and fight for our people in the mean time we can make some money then we can be at the same page. But now if you aren’t willing to fight the stop talking about it no body is stupid enough to do it for.

    • ahmed saleh December 13, 2011

      Don’t you know we do not consider you as Eritrean no more, so represent yourself and leave the word Eritreans N’DEKI ABAT ERITRAWIYAN SEB HELNA .

  • Semhar December 12, 2011

    The real solution to stop the flow of ERITREAN immigrant to ISRAEL is to train Eritreans in Israel to liberate their land and their people.

  • COMEBESHTATO December 12, 2011

    the answer for this is eritrian government got to go.

  • dagidog December 12, 2011

    this the result of dictator Esayas afiwerki

  • Abdi December 12, 2011

    Poor wedi Afom temaharu elu nsawa sedidwom ember n Israel kidu aybelomn,but now after they found the situation differently unexpected and misled by those opportunists “moghay zemedom” they started to put the blame on PIA,wake up,as the say in tgrigna goes”hji wn kmbl elu ember aytekhaawen” still you have the chance to be yourselves correct your mistakes and join the family,those opportunists do not care about your suffer all what they want is to use you”mzhal wuEuy” and be in power by any mean.,so wake up no change comes by collaboration with woyane who committed all the crimes on our family.that is why we all Eritreans should condemn those sheyetti hzbom.

    • Huluf December 12, 2011

      Abdi Ibud,

      Yeah, while his brothers go to the best of schools in the US? What a hypocrite!.
      How about we ship you back home in exchange for one of the Sawa heroes who have spent their life. DIA could possibly send you to Sawa kitimahar.
      DIA should be embarassed where the Israeli prime minister is going to ask him to please contain his people.
      You continue to ooze out a sadistic statements, you do not even realize it.

    • Huluf December 12, 2011

      Abdi Ibud,

      I am expecting you by begiing of year 2012, you will join Eri TV and outdo Comical Ali or Moussa Ibrahim. You have picked up some pages from them I can see.
      You will be entertaining us for sure.

  • Geb December 12, 2011

    Did the Israel government know that repatriate Eritrians to Eritrea means as throwing meat to the beast. The Israelis on the past they were a victim for themselves should know better not to forced people to send to where torture and death is waiting them. Dictator Esayas is a real beast.

  • ahmed saleh December 13, 2011

    To all my Eritrean patriotic brothers/sisters
    Please make copys the article in ASMARINO web site about the evidence about organ traffickers in Sinnai desert on 12th, Dec. and distribute or mail on your city influential
    body or organization, trying is better than nothing. Do not give up, finally we may a find a
    friend who feel our pain, don’t give up stay strong keep fighting for noble cause my people.