NGO Claims Israel 'Illegally' Expelling Illegals

US-based HRW charges 'abuse, unlawful detention' despite Israeli laws, overwhelming evidence of job migration.

AFP, Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Illegal immigrants from Eritrea in Tel Aviv
Illegal immigrants from Eritrea in Tel Aviv
Flash 90

US-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday accused Israel of "illegally" sending almost 7,000 illegal immigrants back to their home countries in Africa.

"Israel's convoluted legal rules thwart Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers' attempts to secure protection under Israeli and international law," claims HRW in the 83-page report.

HRW, whose head Kenneth Roth directly condoned Hamas war crimes last month, accused Israeli authorities of having "denied them access to fair and efficient asylum procedures, and used the resulting insecure legal status as a pretext to unlawfully detain or threaten to detain them indefinitely, coercing thousands into leaving."

The accusations come despite the fact that Yochi Genison, the most senior official at the State Attorney's office tasked with immigration, clarified in June that the evidence has proven the illegal immigrants are not legitimate asylum-seekers, but rather coming to Israel to find work through "institutionalized smuggling networks."

That system of human trafficking for African job seekers was evidenced last month, as an Egyptian border guard was killed during a shootout with people traffickers trying to cross into Israel with illegal African immigrants.

The HRW claim of "unlawful detention" apparently refers to the Holot detention camp in the southern Negev desert, which was opened after Israel passed legislation last December letting the state detain illegal infiltrators for up to a year without trial as their status is clarified. Holot is an open facility, although detainees are required to return every night.

"Abusing" infiltrators to leave?

Gerry Simpson, author of the HRW report, made the unsubstantiated claim that "Israeli officials say they want to make the lives of 'infiltrators' so miserable that they leave Israel, and then claim people are returning home of their own free will. International law is clear that when Israel threatens Eritreans and Sudanese with lifelong detention, they aren't freely deciding to leave Israel."

As noted, according to the recently passed Israeli law, infiltrators can be held for up to a year as their status is clarified; Israeli authorities have reported that nearly all do not classify as "refugees" according to international law, but are merely job seekers who have passed several countries on their way to greater financial opportunities in Israel.

Simpson ended with a vitriolic charge, saying "destroying people's hope of finding protection by forcing them into a corner and then claiming they are voluntarily leaving Israel is transparently abusive."

Responding to the accusatory HRW report, a spokesperson for Israel's Population and Migration Authority said "Israel acts legally and in an appropriate and proportional manner in order to deal with the phenomenon of illegal infiltrators. The growth in number of those leaving Israel of their own will is three times higher in 2014 than in 2013. This proves the policy is effective."

Aside from the new legislation, another factor in the rising number of infiltrators choosing to go home may have been the terror war Hamas launched on Israel in July.

While a direct connection to Operation Protective Edge remains speculative, figures showed 379 illegals voluntarily left Israel in August, more than had left the previous four months altogether. So far this year, 5,388 illegal Africans have left Israel voluntarily.

The number, while high, still leaves many infiltrators in Israel, as 2013 figures showed a total of 54,000 illegal immigrants were in Israel. Their presence has been accompanied by an exponentially skyrocketing in crime rates, particularly in southern Tel Aviv.