Israel is now reportedly refusing to renew tourist visas and temporary work visas for the minority of African asylum seekers who have them – almost all of whom are legal refugees under international law and under treaties Israel has signed but arguably is not keeping.
Israel cannot legally deport the vast majority of these asylum seekers because they have nowhere safe to be deported to, and Israel's scheme to pay them $3,500 per adult and $1,000 per child to voluntarily leave the country has not worked out, largely because that money is not enough to get them to risk torture, starvation and death.
So Israel – which already does basically nothing for these asylum seekers – who often live in squalid conditions as a result – is now apparently planning a new wave of arrests as means of scaring as many as possible to leave Israel, to risk their lives and go back to civil war and brutal dictatorship rather than stay in safety in Israel.
How bad is the Government of Israel to these asylum seekers?
As Media Line reports, the Government of Israel is very bad:
…Since Israel’s creation in 1948, it has granted refugee status to fewer than 200 asylum seekers, fearing that could open the floodgates for hundreds of thousands of others. In the past two years, Israel has built an almost impenetrable border wall and the number of asylum seekers in the past year has plummeted.
“The Israeli government on the one hand is granting them this visa to say that they are not deportable because of where they come from,” said Jean-Marc Liling, a lawyer specializing in refugee law. “But it doesn’t want to grant them a visa that would allow them to be processed and potentially recognized as refugees…The government questions the fact that they are refugees and says that they are economic migrants who came to Israel only to work and make money.”
… In the last three years, only 3,000 Africans have left Israel, according to Israeli parliamentarian Michal Rozin from the left-wing Meretz party.
Despite the hefty sum of money Israel provides those who leave voluntarily most African migrants say it is too dangerous to return to their home countries.
“There is no place that will accept them,” Rozin told The Media Line. “The government tried to make an agreement with Uganda to take a few hundred, but it did not work out. In Europe every country will only accept a few thousand a year. We cannot send them back to Sudan and Eritrea, and the majority says that they do not have a place to go back to.”
The dangers that await the asylum seekers back home are frightening. In Eritrea, the brutal dictatorship of Isaias Afwerki rules with impunity, and ethnic civil war has engulfed both Sudan and it’s now-independent neighbor South Sudan, with over 1,000 killed in the past week alone.…
The African asylum seekers say they want to stay in Israel until it is safe for them to go home. However since many of them cannot legally work, there has been an increase in crime rates in areas where migrants congregate.…The government seems to be taking a harsher stance as time passes.
“They see these people as infiltrators and they ignore the fact that they are refugees. So there is this blindness that these people could well be refugees,” [refugee law attorney Jean-Marc] Liling said. “If you keep repeating infiltrators infiltrators infiltrators, you convince yourself and the Israeli public that all of these Africans are infiltrators [which is false].”…