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      Negev Says No to Tent City

      Local leaders in the Negev are outraged by plans to create a tent city for illegal entrants. “Would you do this in Tel Aviv?”
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 6/10/2012, 11:40 AM

      Illegal African immigrants
      Illegal African immigrants
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      Local leaders in the Negev expressed outrage this week after ministers suggested building a tent city in the region where illegal entrants to Israel could live until repatriation.

      “There is one law for the Negev and for Tel Aviv,” Ramat HaNegev Regional Council head Shmulik Rifman said in a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “Just as nobody would think to build a tent city for illegal entrants in the heart of Tel Aviv, a tent city cannot be built in the Negev.”

      The tent city was proposed as a means to stop illegal entrants from dispersing to cities, where authorities often lose track of them.

      A ministerial committee is also weighing tougher punishments for those who employ illegal aliens. Under a proposed bill, employers could get jail time or a NIS 500,000 fine.

      MK Ophir Akunis, who proposed the bill, explained that illegal entry “has become a daily phenomenon that threatens to become a strategic threat to Israeli society, particularly in poor neighborhoods.”

      “Israeli courts give low fines to those who employ illegal entrants or give them a place to stay,” he continued. “There is room to make the punishment more severe – an employer who violates the law and endangers human life… deserves a more serious sentence.”