Mass deportations of Eritrean refugees is also planned for after Rosh Hashana despite international law and treaties Israel signed which prohibit it. Even foreign workers hired to take care of elderly Israelis denied gas masks. IDF says if crisis develops, it will distribute gas masks to them. "The foreign population is mainly in big cities, in houses without a safe space, and their exposure to injury is huge. But Israel isn't even taking care of its own citizens right now. So it's important that first thing's [are done] first."
Israel Denying African Refugees And Foreign Workers Gas Masks
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
An Eritrean refugee was reportedly refused a gas mask Wednesday in Jerusalem because he is not an Israeli citizen.
"I have no saferoom in my house or a gas mask and I am afraid. I think the country needs to take care of us, even if it costs us money. We're so worried of a possibility of war here. I hope war doesn't come after me,” the 30-year-old Eritrean who had seen his share of war told Ynet.
The African refugees and foreign workers are not completely alone. The government comptroller recently issued a report that found that approximately 40% of Israeli citizens do not have a gas mask.
In response to that report, the Internal Security Ministry claimed that a significant amount of working gas masks exists and can be distributed if needed.
However, Ynet reports that it still remains unclear how the government will get gas masks to all Israelis who need them, and it is unclear what, if anything, will really be done for the 165,000 foreign workers, 55,000 African refugees, and other non-citizens if Syria strikes Israel.
"The foreign population is mainly in big cities, in houses without a safe space, and their exposure to injury is huge. But Israel isn't even taking care of its own citizens right now. So it's important that first thing's [are done] first,” Avi Naim, chairman of the security committee at the Union of Local Authorities in Israel, reportedly said.
The problem of protecting foreigners also directly impacts Israeli families in ways many people fail to consider.
"It's unclear what foreign workers who care for the elderly will do in a state of emergency. The authorities need to remember that these are people who live amongst us and it is our duty to protect them if an emergency occurs,” Reut Michaeli, director of the Hotline for Migrant Workers, said.
For reasons that are unclear, the IDF doesn’t appear to consider the situation to be urgent – even though tens of thousands of Israelis are clamoring for gas masks since Syria used poison gas on its own people a few days ago and foreigners have been completely shut out of that process.
"The Home Front Command is prepared at any time to protect the citizens of Israel in an emergency to the best of its ability. The gas masks distribution plan is meant for citizens of Israel and if an emergency occurs an assessment will be made about those staying in Israel without citizenship. The Home Front Command will in this case offer instructions and aid in a variety of languages,” the IDF Spokesperson's Unit reportedly said.
How this distribution would take place, especially if Syria strikes Israel with a surprise chemical attack, is unclear.
Meanwhile, Israel has promised to deport thousands of Eritrean refugees after Rosh Hashana, even though many Eritrean refugees who were “voluntarily” sent back to Eritrea by the government after it offered them a choice between indefinite jail sentences or “voluntary” deportation have disappeared, and some have reportedly been jailed and tortured.
Refugees who refuse to "voluntarily" be deported will have their visas cancelled and they will be punished if found to be working, Interior Minister Gidon Sa'ar said.
It is illegal under international law and under treaties Israel signed to deport Eritreans.
To get around this problem, the government has taken to identifying Eritreans as Ethiopians so deportations would be "legal." (They aren't.)
It has also made a deal with an unnamed East African country to take Eritreans in exchange for technical assistance and economic aid. It is likely this arrangement will turn out to be illegal and a violation of those treaties, as well.
In the past few years, Israel has failed to examine asylum requests, Ynet reported – in effect denying legitimate refugees refugee status by inertia.
The government also claims that the situation in Eritrea is much better than multiple international reports say. Israel is using this highly dubious claim to insist that the majority of Eritrean refugees are in fact migrant workers who entered Israel illegally and can therefore be deported – a claim similar to the claim many countries used to deny European Jews refuge after the Nazis took control of Germany.