A day after hundreds of people protested in south Tel Aviv against African refugees and migrant workers, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called for restraint and said the government was attempting to stop the flood of illegal immigrants.
In a taped statement uploaded on YouTube, Netanyahu said the government was acting "decisively" to prevent the flow of illegal infiltrators from Africa. RELATED:New forms for African migrants make working illegalNo quick fix for migrants
"We are doing this by building a fence, which has not been built for years but is now being erected," he said. "We are doing this by returning the illegal infiltrators to their countries of origin. This has not been done for years, and now we are doing it. We are also taking other actions." "One thing I ask and insist upon," Netanyahu said, "is that Israeli citizens not take the law into their hands. They cannot use violence or get overly agitated. The government is acting. Our job is to solve the problem, and we will solve it, but I ask you that the law be obeyed. We are a state that respects all people and we will solve this problem within the framework of the law. That is what we are doing, and what we are asking of every citizen." In recent weeks the government has deported 150 refugees to a third country, has started intensively constructing a fence along the 240 km border with Egypt, approved plans to build a large detention center for illegal migrants near Ketziot, and is working on legislation that would impose heavy fines on employers hiring illegal immigrants.
During a tour of work on the fence with Egypt last month, Netanyahu was asked about signs of racism against the migrants that have surfaced.
The migrants, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, are trying to enter Israel not only because of economic opportunity, but also because they know that in Israel they will be treated humanely, he said.
But, he added, "There are sign of extremism. These signs of extremism will increase if instead of 1,000 people [illegal migrants entering] a month, 12,000 a year, we would see 40,0000 or 50,000 a year, and that is possible."