Saharonim Prison 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers will hold a hearing on Wednesday
following a report that the Israel Police has illegally compiled a DNA database
of African migrants, committee chairwoman MK Michal Roisin (Meretz) said on
“It appears that the Israel Police has opened a dangerous door
by founding a database of this sort. This decision must be brought before a
public debate because of the consequences it poses to personal privacy of
residents of the country,” Roisin said.
The announcement came hours after
published a story describing how the police, as a way to help solve
crimes, has for the past year been collecting DNA samples of migrants who have
illegally crossed the border into Israel, during their incarceration at the
Saharonim detention camp in the South.
Senior police officials tried and
failed to get public or Knesset approval for such a DNA database, but
nonetheless began collecting samples from migrants at Saharonim on the grounds
that by entering the country, those migrants have committed a security-related
crime, the article reported. In 2012, police opened more than 600 such cases of
security crime against African migrants.
Though the Haaretz report states
that “as far as is known, police have not solved any crimes as a result of such
DNA sampling,” Tel Aviv police have in recent months publicly credited the
database as being key to solving a number of crimes involving migrants in the
One such example is Rubal Fadul, the suspect in the December 2012
rape and beating of an 83-year-old woman in south Tel Aviv, who police said they
found through a DNA sample taken from inside the victim’s body, which matched a
sample taken from Fadul when he was brought in on a theft arrest months
In another case in late March, police said a DNA sample led them
to a 23- year-old Sudanese man who they suspect brutally beat and raped a
Filipina foreign worker in a parking lot on Wolfson Street in south Tel Aviv. In
those cases, police have credited the DNA with helping them track possible
offenders among the tens of thousands of African migrants in Tel Aviv and
elsewhere – the police lacks both officers who speak the languages of migrants,
as well as sufficient street-level sources or intelligence to track them down
In March, Tel Aviv police distributed to the press statistics on
crime in the district in 2012.
According to the figures, from 2011 to
2012 there was a 53.2 percent increase – to 1,048 from 684 – in the number of
Sudanese and Eritreans named as suspects in crimes. In that same period, there
was a 45 percent increase
– to 1,092 from 753 – in the number of criminal cases
opened against African migrants.
Following Thursday’s Haaretz
Hotline for Migrant Workers said: “Israeli authorities failed to collect DNA
data from African asylum-seekers in other ways, and thus decided to circumvent
the law and accuse some of them in illegal entry to Israel.
effect’ of this illegal action is a significant rise in the criminal files
opened for Africans, which creates the wrong impression that more of them are
involved in criminal activity,” the organization said.
“It also assists
the authorities in administratively detaining Africans under the criminal
procedure of the Anti-Infiltration Law, according to which asylum-seekers can be
detained indefinitely if they have a ‘criminal background,’ even if no charges
are pressed against them,” the Hotline said.