“[The justices and left wing refugee advocates should] take one [African refugee] home to their own area and then talk to me,” Sefardi haredi Shas MK Eli Yishai fumed. He also insisted that African refugees have destroyed southern Tel Aviv with crime and with their lifestyle and said he would continue his efforts imprison all of them, despite the High Court's ruling.
High Court Rules That Extended Detention Of African Refugees Without Trial Is Illegal, Right Wing And Haredi MKs Vow To Ignore Or Skirt Ruling
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
On Monday, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the government is not allowed to imprison African refugees years without trial. Until now, the government has detained some African refugees for as long as three years under the Knesset's Prevention of Infiltration Law amendment, even though they have not been charged with crimes and have not had trials. The court ruled 9-0 that the Prevention of Infiltration Law amendment amendment is unconstitutional.
There are reportedly currently 1,750 African refugees imprisoned without trial. Most of those are Sudanese and Eritrean.
The government has 90 days to comply with the ruling.
The High Court’s decision infuriated right wing Knesset members, Yeshiva World reported, and also enraged many Israelis living in South Tel Aviv where large numbers of African refugees congregate.
MK Eli Yishai of the Sefardi haredi Shas Party lashed out at the court’s justices yesterday in an interview with Israel Radio.
“[The justices and left wing refugee advocates should] take one [African refugee] home to their own area and then talk to me,” Yishai reportedly fumed. He also insisted that African refugees have destroyed southern Tel Aviv with crime and with their lifestyle and said he would continue his efforts imprison all of them, despite the High Court's ruling.
Yishai justified his open defiance of the High Court of Justice by claiming that his first loyalty is to the citizens of Israel and the State of Israel – not to the African refugees he refers to as “infiltrators.”
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said the court’s ruling forces her and her Knesset colleagues to find another solution to the problem.
“Most of them are not refugees as they wish us to believe…If there is no solution we will have to find one. There is the issue of addressing the border and preventing infiltrations and then the matter of how we deal with those already in the country,” Livini reportedly said, indicating that deportation may have to be that answer.
Under international agreements signed by Israel and international law, deporting many of these refugees would be illegal.
The Knesset’s Interior Committee Chairwoman MK Miri Regev was even more blunt than Livni.
“[the court’s decision] is the Garden of Eden for the infiltrators and hell for southern Tel Aviv residents,” Regev reportedly said. She wants to pass a bill immediately to overrule the High Court’s ruling so the “infiltrators” can be kept locked up.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toted his policy of keeping refugees out of the country and deporting them – despite the law – if they do sneak in.
“I am determined to continue to lead the government’s actions in dealing with the phenomenon of illegal migration. At a time when many countries in the world are dealing with the phenomenon of illegal migration, we have blocked it and last month not even a single illegal migrant crossed our southern border. This result was achieved thanks to the variety of measures we have enacted including the construction of a fence on the southern border.
“Alongside honoring the decision of the High Court of Justice, I, in cooperation with the Interior Minister and the Attorney General, intend to find ways that are in keeping with the decision and which will allow the implementation of our determined policy which has blocked illegal migration and has already repatriated thousands of illegal migrants.”
In practice, Israel refuses to register legitimate African refugees as refugees, refuses to grant them work permits, and denies them welfare benefits. It stations special police officers outside medical clinics set up to help African refugees in order to arrest them and recently moved to deport a group of Eritreans – who cannot be legally deported due the security situation in their home country – by redefining them as “Ethiopians.”
African refugee businesses have been shut down by the government and crimes committed against African refugees – including arson attacks and attempted murder – are rarely prosecuted. When they are, the outcomes, even with guilty verdicts, are often laughable.
For example, the man who firebombed an occupied African day care center and apartments housing sleeping African refugees last year was sentenced to approximately 6 months of community service with no prison time at all in a plea deal initiated by government prosecutors.