Daily Israel Report

Eilat Mayor Presses for Immigration Enforcement

Mayor Halevi called on Israel's leaders to make good on their promises and take action to curb the tide of illegal aliens flooding Israel.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 5/24/2012, 1:53 PM

Yitzhak Halevi
Yitzhak Halevi
ערוץ 7

Eilat mayor Yitzhak Halevi warned Monday that the deluge of illegal aliens passing into Israel from Sinai poses both a strategic and demographic threat to the state.

He called on the government to implement the decisions it has already made to deal with the matter.

Halevi said the security fence on the Egyptian border needs to be completed within a short time, and that the government needed to expedite the construction of a detention center for illegal aliens. He also called on the government to fine those who employe illegal aliens.

Halevy told Israel Radio "Infiltrators hurt the ability of local leaders to improve the quality of life for residents" and have a negative impact on public safety.

On Tuesday, MK Danny Danon (Likud) led a 1,000 strong rally to pressure the government into deporting illegal aliens to their countries of origin saying, "The terrible situation that has formed here has only one solution and we need to talk about it and we must not be ashamed: expel them now!"

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has described the growing number of illegal aliens in Israel, mostly from Africa, as a "national catastrophy" and "demographic threat." Israel, a small nation with a population of some 8 million - 75% of its citizens being Jewish - does not have the capacity to absorb large numbers of illegal aliens and refugees while maintaining the Jewish character of the state.

Late last year he promised to personally travel to Africa to meet with leaders and arrange the safe return of their citizens.

Israel previously offered an assistance basket to any illegal immigrant who identified themselves and agreed to return home voluntarily.

The deadline to receive the assistance basket passed on April 30, and Immigration officials are now supposed to arrest and detain illegal aliens pending deportation. However, with no detention facility to place illegal aliens in - meaningful enforcement is effectively impossible.

Israel's left has denounced moves to deport illegal aliens as "racist," and also argue it is not safe for those illegal immigrants from war-torn Sudan and South Sudan - some of whom are refugees - to return to their homeland.

However, discussions between the Foreign Ministry and the Attorney General earlier this week, concluded that in most cases refugees from Sudan and South Sudan can be safety returned hom.

Israel's state prosecutor has been tasked with investigating the circusmstances of illegal aliens who do claim to be legitimate refugees on a case by case basis. However, most illegal aliens come to Israel seeking work and are expected to be returned home.