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      Yishai Defends Immigration Officer from Onslaught Over Remarks

      The head of the unit which arrests illegal immigrants said groups that called him ‘Nazi’ want Israel’s destruction – and came under more fire.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 8/5/2009, 6:50 PM

      Flash 90

      Col. (res.) Yitzhak ‘Tziki’ Sela, Commander of the Interior Ministry’s ‘Oz’ Unit which arrests illegal immigrants and deports them, gave an interview to Ma’ariv Wednesday in which he slammed the organizations that have been protesting against the government’s intention to crack down on illegal foreign labor.

      “These groups, those who protest against us, the ones that call me ‘Goebbels’ and a Nazi, are anarchists who want the destruction of the state of Israel, with three exclamation marks,” Sela said. “They should be condemned. This is criminal behavior, pure and simple.”


      Oz unit in action. Israel news photo: Flash 90.

      “As for the children,” Sela said, “in the end the result will be that with all due sorrow and pain, there is no choice. There is a sizeable group of 1,200 children who do not have a legal permit and that is it. They are just guests here.”

      'We mean business'
      When asked again about the decision to deport foreign workers’ children he asked: “What do you mean children? Where does the line pass, I want to know. This is a painful and complex issue but the public pressure that has been brought to bear here is unbelievable.”

      Asked if the deportation of children was ‘inhuman’ Sela answered: “The State of Israel has made a decision. These are people who knew the law that says they cannot have children. They are adult people and they came here of their own free will. Nobody is forcing them to be here. I carry out policy. If every child receives (legal) status, we will find ourselves with a million and a half foreigners in a few years. That is the watershed from our point of view.”

      “We mean business,” he stated. “I am telling the illegal migrants, take yourselves from here and go away willingly. We will give you the plane tickets. Get out of here.”

      Daily media attacks
      The Oz authority has come under daily attacks from the media and leftist social organizations over the past weeks over its stated intention to crack down on illegal immigration to Israel and to begin deporting more illegal workers than it did before. In a seemingly coordinated PR blitz, the media have been featuring large-scale photos and prominent interviews of cute immigrant children who are due to be deported, and have extensively covered the demonstrations by leftist social groups calling for allowing the illegal immigrants to stay in Israel.

      Sela’s criticism of the social organizations prompted an even more intense onslaught of political and media criticism against him. MK Ophir Pines asked Minister of Interior Eli Yishai (Shas) to discipline Sela. “The man’s crude style and his insensitivity cause Israel’s name to be defamed and shame the entire Interior Ministry,” Pines claimed.

      MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) said Sela’s statements were “words of stupidity and incitement that do not fit Sela’s status and official position.”

      Doctors for Human Rights called for Sela to be fired and the Hotline for Foreign Workers said that advancing the rights of immigrants and refugees is “a vital contribution to the moral character of a country that is made up of immigrants and refugees.”

      The Center for Jewish Pluralism accused Sela of “causing serious damage to Israeli society’s moral fortitude and the basic Jewish and human values that are its foundation.”

      Yishai defends Zionism
      Yishai defended Sela and said: “A person like him risks his life and at the same time he hears statements like ‘Goebbels’ from those aid groups. These groups are a threat to the Zionist project and an overwhelming majority of the people thinks that way. Sela and his people should be thanked.”

      MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) called for an end to the ‘incitement’ against Sela. The role of the Oz unit, he said, “is to save us from a flood of immigration that will undermine the country’s Jewish nature.”