A family of Filipino foreign workers will be deported from Israel on July 23 and will be released from detention until the day of their deportation, the Petah Tikva District Court ruled on Monday.

The court’s decision follows a campaign on behalf of protesters who petitioned the court following the arrest of six-year-old AJ and her parents on Sunday morning, the first day of her summer break. The petition, submitted by the NGO Israeli Children, called on immigration authorities to set the family free from the detention facility at Ben- Gurion Airport, and to allow them time to prepare for deportation. AJ had already been released Sunday night following an appeal to the court, but Sunday’s court decision means both of her parents will be set free until their deportation date.

In the court protocol, Judge Avraham Yaakov said that AJ, who studied at Bialik-Rogozin school in south Tel Aviv, “has known her entire life only in Israel; she speaks Hebrew, she has friends and family here, and while I agree that the interior minister has the authority to deport illegal residents from Israel, it must be done in a fitting manner.”

The petitioners did not appeal the deportation itself, which fits the criteria that the government approved in August 2010. The petitioners merely appealed the holding of the family in detention until their deportation, an appeal that the court said also met the approval of the Interior Ministry.

The criteria include that the children’s parents entered Israel legally, they have been in Israel for over five years and are enrolled in the Israeli school system, among others. AJ, whose parents’ work visas expired in 2004, did not fit the criteria at the time the decision was made, and has since faced the threat of deportation. According to immigration officials, the family never submitted an appeal to request legal status in Israel after their permits expired.

Under the criteria passed in August 2010, around 1,200 children were made subject to deportation, while parents of another 701 children submitted residency claims.

One of the petitioners, Tami Gordon of Israeli Children, is quoted in the protocol as saying how AJ’s parents “lost their work permits, fell in love, brought children into the world, and don’t need to be blamed for this. I am asking that you give her this vacation, the last in her life, because in the Philippines she won’t have this sort of school break, and the Interior Ministry can understand this.”

Rotem Ilan, also of Israeli Children, said “we are happy that the courts also understand that a child’s place is not in prison,” and criticized the state for “bringing so many foreign workers to Israel and choosing to look at them as just objects and not human beings.”

On Sunday night, dozens of protesters held signs and chanted outside Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s house in Tel Aviv, asking him to intervene on behalf of AJ.

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