Outrage in Southern Tel Aviv Over Infiltrators

Residents of southern Tel Aviv set up a “mourning tent” in reaction to the High Court’s decision to strike down the Infiltrators Law.

Ido Ben Porat ,

Residents of southern Tel Aviv protest
Residents of southern Tel Aviv protest
PR photo

Residents of southern Tel Aviv on Monday evening set up a “mourning tent” at the Habima Square in the city, in a reaction to the High Court’s decision to strike down key sections of the Infiltrators Law that made it possible to detain illegal immigrants without trial for up to one year.

Residents of southern Tel Aviv 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 working class neighborhood. 

In its ruling, the court said that about 2,000 illegal infiltrators from Eritrea and Sudan who are currently being held at the Holot detention facility in the Negev must be set free in three months' time.

Speaking at the protest, MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), said that in its decision, “The High Court told all the citizens of Africa: Come to Israel. The meaning of this ruling is the end of this state as Jewish and democratic.”

Orly Yugir, Director of the Center for Immigration Policy, said, "The ruling is completely disconnected from the reality on the ground, from Israeli democracy and from the weak layers in Israeli society. The detention facilities have proven themselves most effective in stopping the flow of infiltration and as the decisive factor in the decision of thousands of infiltrators to return to their home countries in recent months.”

Monday’s decision was criticized by nationalist MKs. Jewish Home Chairman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said the decision reflected the degree of disconnection between the judges and the reality on the ground in southern Tel Aviv, where most of the infiltrators reside.

"In a time of security-related and economic distress, the High Court has sent an open invitation to tens of thousands of infiltrators to come to Israel. You infiltrate, you win. We must obey the rule of law, but the High Court is exhibiting excess activism and in effect is taking away authority from the government – which bears the ultimate responsibility for the security and welfare of Israel.”

Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) said that the High Court judges “broke a new record in turning their back on the state of Israel.”

"It is hard to believe that the High Court, with its own hands, is diminishing Israel's ability to defend itself from the phenomenon of infiltration. What good is the border fence when every infiltrator knows that the High Court ties the state's hands behind its back and it cannot do anything? This is a black day for the rule of law in Israel.”

MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), Chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, called the decision “scandalous.” the High Court, he said, “preferred the welfare of illegal infiltrators over the security of hundreds of thousands of law abiding citizens in Israel. The justice system cannot replace the Knesset and government in order to protect lawbreakers and detract from the Jewish nature of the state of Israel, and the security of its residents.”

MK Elkin called on the Knesset to pass a law that makes it possible to override a High Court decision annulling a law.