As 15,000 mostly illegal immigrants protested in Tel Aviv, demanding that Israel recognize them as refugees and grant them asylum, Shas deputy chairman MK Eli Yishai said that Israel needed to deal with the issue in a much more forceful way. “A demonstration like this in the first [modern] Hebrew city – which has for a long time had a large African population – is an alarm that must wake up the state's legal system to develop any and all means to repatriate these people to their homelands.”
Thousands of the illegals gathered in Tel Aviv for the demonstration, going on strike to demand that they be allowed to remain in Israel. In recent weeks, Israel has begun rounding up illegals whose work visas have expired and detaining them at a new facility in southern Israel built to hold them as the government worked on ways to deport them. So far, some 300 illegals have been detained. Protests also took place in Eilat, with illegals who did not attend the protests taking a day off from work in solidarity with the protesters.
As Interior Minister in the last two governments, Yishai was one of the most vociferous government officials demanding that the flow of illegals into Israel be halted. A new security fence on Israel's southern border has successfully halted the mass illegal invasion of several years ago, but estimates say that some 60,000 illegal Africans who managed to get into the country in previous years remain.
The infiltrators demand that Israel grant them the status of political refugees, who according to UN regulations, cannot be deported to their countries of origin. Israel has said that it considers nearly all the illegals to be economic migrants who are searching for work, and as such can be deported.
According to Yishai, “Israel stands at a crossroads – will we remove the illegals, or stop being a Jewish state? The 'chutzpah,' the arrogance, of these protesters, with the assistance of leftist and anti-Zionist 'human rights' groups who are encouraging them, is worrying, and also enraging. I call on the government to deal with them harshly and uncompromisingly, as I did when I was Interior Minister. They should all be detained until arrangements can be made for their deportation.”