African migrants and Israelis protest deportations in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: JONATHAN BIRIN)
Hundreds of African migrants and Israelis protested against deportations in Jerusalem on Thursday night on Ben Yehuda Street.
The protesters, many who claim to be asylum seekers and refugees from Sudan and Eritrea, held signs with the words "Deportation = Death," "We are human beings too" and held up pictures of family members who had already been sent back to the countries from which they tried to escape.
As the night went on, more and more people joined in - both African and Israeli. They shouted slogans like: "If you send us back, you're sending us to our death," and "Don't deport! Don't deport!"
A father from Eritrea told The Jerusalem Post
that he had brought his three-year-old son with him to the protest because he and his child were going to be separated if he is deported. "My son was born here and I was born in Eritrea - they are going to take us away from each other if they go through with this. How can you separate a child from his father, it's cruel!"
Another protester who held a sign with a picture of a young man who was deported several years ago to Sudan and who "has since gone missing," the Sudanese migrant said.
"He was a friend of my older brothers, they made him go back and we never heard from him again... who knows what happened?" he questioned. "We can't allow this."
Several Israelis attending the protest said it was inhumane to send "the refugees back to the horrors they ran from."
"How can we do this? How can we let this happen? We will help them and we will fight this - it's madness. It's not a simple situation but this is not the answer - they ran away from terrible things - we should shelter them and do our best to make a plan to integrate these innocent people," said one Israeli woman.
"We must treat them like human beings - like we would treat our brothers and our own flesh and blood," added another Israeli protester.