The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and five other human rights groups filed a petition in the Jerusalem District Court on behalf of six asylum seekers seeking an injunction to prevent Interior Minister Eli Yishai from imprisoning Sudanese refugees.

According to an ACRI press release, five of the Sudanese petitioners are from the region of Darfur.

The press release references an announcement by Yishai at the end of August that all Sudanese migrants will have until October 15 to leave Israel, after which they will be arrested and detained.

ACRI alleged that in interviews with the media, the interior minister said that the purpose of these detentions would be to make the lives of the Sudanese migrants unbearable.

“If this policy is enacted, thousands of Sudanese asylum seekers along with their children will be hunted down, arrested en masse, and detained indefinitely in extreme conditions in the desert. Included among these people are survivors of genocide and other atrocities in Darfur and other areas,” said the press release.

According to the release, the petition argues that the detentions announced by Yishai are arbitrary, since there is no legal or practical possibility of returning Sudanese citizens to their country, that Yishai lacks the authority to carry out his plans as such authority belongs to the defense minister and that even if Yishai had the authority, the plan is unlawful because its purpose is discriminatory.

The press release refers to an October 2 letter supporting its efforts from the Israel representative to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Yishai responded, labeling the “migrant problem” as one of the “greatest threats to our future and our identity as Jewish Zionist state.”

He added that he would do “all he could” to “return every last migrant” to their country of origin despite any criticism.

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