Amid rising tensions over the issue of African migrants in Israel,
the United States criticized aspects of the government's treatment of
asylum seekers, in a State Department report released Thursday.
The report, entitled 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,
stated that though the government has ceased the practice of
immediately returning African asylum seekers arriving via Egypt, it
"continued to deny many asylum seekers individual refugee status
determinations, which impacted their ability to work or receive basic
social services, including health care."
The reports says that
Israeli law allows most asylum seekers access to temporary asylum,
however, refers to complaints regarding accessibility to the system and
reports of discrimination.
Citing United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data, the report says
that out of 4,603 new asylum applications submitted during 2011, the
government rejected 3,692, approved one and 6,412 remained pending.
US also viewed negatively government officials' use of the term
"infiltrators" to refer to asylum seekers, as well as officials who directly
associated asylum seekers with the rise in crime, disease and terrorism. Interior
Minister Eli Yishai was specifically flagged as an instigator.
as the report was released, Yishai reiterated his views, telling
channel 10 that "all infiltrators must be imprisoned, with no
exceptions," and that the state must transmit a message to them all,
that Israel does not accept them.
On Wednesday night, violent disturbances
against African migrants in south Tel Aviv reached unprecedented
levels, resulting in the arrest of 17 local residents for assaulting
migrants, attacking police and looting storefronts belonging to