African Infiltrators Stage March in Tel Aviv
Several thousand African infiltrators who entered Israel illegally via Egypt staged a peaceful protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday, police said to AFP.
The demonstrators denounced the refusal of the authorities to grant them refugee status, as well as holding several hundred in detention centers. They marched, some holding candles and others placards bearing the slogan "We are refugees", to cries of "Freedom!"
Israeli left-wing activists also joined the march from a southern neighborhood to Yitzhak Rabin Square, where they gathered outside the municipality.
Earlier this month, over 250 inmates marched from the Holot detention center to Jerusalem in protest of new laws cracking down on illegal immigration, carrying signs and protesting alleged human rights violations.
Under legislation passed on December 10, illegal immigrants entering Israel can be held for up to a year without trial. It was the latest in a series of measures aimed at cracking down on the numbers of African migrants entering the country illegally, which Israel says poses both a security and demographic threat.
The new law amends earlier legislation which allowed for immigrants to be held for up to three years without trial that was overturned by the Supreme Court in September.
Detainees are held at special facilities, given basic needs and even benefits like healthcare and education, and allowed to leave the facility during the day as long as they report daily to special stations, according to the program.
The bill faced considerable controversy in the Knesset, however, with both Leftist MKs and activist groups claiming the law was a violation of human rights.
Supporters of the law have pointed out how vital preventing illegal immigration is to Israel's security, especially near Israel's South and in major urban centers.
Residents of working-class neighborhoods in southern Tel Aviv, as well as those of other cities like Eilat, say they have been suffering from endless harassment, fear and violence perpetrated by the many illegal Eritrean and Sudanese infiltrators who enter Israel to find employment and come to live in their neighborhoods.
Many Jewish residents say they are terrified of leaving their homes and have begged the government to take action.