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December 15, 2011 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-12-15

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Who Are Israel's
African Infiltrators?

Omri Efraim
Ynet News

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December 15 • 2011

sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu has described a "great
wave, a flood of infiltrators." The
interior minister has warned of an
"existential threat',' and the police com-
missioner calls it a "strategic problem:'
The approval of the government
program for the "handling of the
infiltrators and the migrant workers
problem" during the cabinet's weekly
meeting has joined the government
proposal on the "prevention of infil-
tration" to be brought before the
Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee.
Its purpose is allowing the arrest of
asylum seekers and their children for a
minimum of three years and in certain
cases, for an unlimited period of time.
Who are the people crossing the
southern border in the thousands, and
what is the problem?
According to Immigration Authority
data, there are 43,000 foreigners who
entered through the Egyptian border
illegally living in Israel today.
In 2005, the trickle of infiltrators
turned into a stream of thousands
when Egypt toughened its attitude.
Moreover, the African immigration
route to Europe was blocked after the
Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi
signed an agreement with Italy that
would allow the return of refugees.
Thus, Israel became the preferred des-
tination and last month a record 2,600
Africans arrived in Israel.
At the same time, a flourishing
migrant smuggling industry emerged.
Bedouin smugglers who transport the
infiltrators through Sinai and aid them
in crossing the border receive huge
sums for their efforts, a sum of up to
$2,500 per person. When questioned,
the infiltrators paint a harsh picture of
torture, abuse, violence and rapes until
the border is reached.

A Look At The People
So who are the tens of thousands?
Some 15 percent of all infiltrators
come from various African countries

and most of them come here in search
of work. But over 85 percent are from
Sudan and Eritrea, countries with a
catastrophic human rights record.
The International Refugee
Convention of 1951 obliges countries
that have refugees within their borders
to make sure they are not sent back to
places where they might be in danger
and to care for their welfare and give
them access to healthcare services,
welfare and education.
Except that requests for refugee sta-
tus are hardly ever received in Israel.
The reason is simple and stems from
a deliberate policy being carried out
by the Interior Ministry in the last
few years: No one is carrying out the
needed examinations to receive refu-
gee status.
The infiltrators are taken to a spe-
cial facility by the IDF where they
are questioned by the Immigration
Authority's Passport Control offi-
cials. Those arriving from Sudan and
Eritrea automatically receive asylum
seeker status — which is not the same
as refugee status and does not offer
them any rights other than the collec-
tive right of not being expelled.
Amnon Ben Ami, director of
the Interior Ministry's Population,
Immigration and Borders Authority
explained: "The questioning aims to
examine the purpose of the arrival in
Israel, and it reveals that 98 percent of
the infiltrators are seeking work.
"Only a very few fulfill the criteria
determined by the U.N. for refugee
status. The others all declare that they
are here to work and try to discover
if they can send money back to their
The inevitable result of the insuf-
ficient questioning of infiltrators from
Egypt is that even those who have
no right or reason to receive asylum
seeker status, and who could techni-
cally have been sent back to their
country of origin, remain in Israel on
the strength of collective protection.
Thus, huge communities of infiltrators
began to gather on the periphery of
Israel's towns and cities. II

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