Yishai: Most African infiltrators involved in crime

Interior minister says only small number of Africans in Israel are refugees, rest should be detained, repatriated.

May 16, 2012 09:42
1 minute read.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

Eli Yishai 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Wednesday said that all African migrants and asylum seekers should be jailed, put in detention centers or given repatriation grants, claiming that most of them are engaged in criminal activity.

Speaking a day after four Sudanese and Eritrean nationals were arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in Tel Aviv, the interior minister said, "We cannot forfeit security for Israeli citizens," speaking in an interview with Army Radio.

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Those Africans in Israel who are recognized as refugees can stay in Israel, Yishai said, but claimed that there are only a small number who fall under the classification. "Put everyone without exception into prison or detention camps," he stated.

There are over 50,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, according to government figures. According to the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, around 7,000 people have infiltrated Israel’s southern border since the beginning of 2012. Yishai has repeatedly called the infiltrators an existential threat to Zionism.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has echoed Yishai's sentiments that infiltrators from Africa are a "threat" to Israel and has initiated several measures to stem the tide of illegal migrants entering Israel from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Netanyahu ordered the Defense Ministry to speed up work on a 240 km-long fence on the Egypt border, expected to be completed by the end of 2012. The cabinet also approved measures to build a new detention center for housing migrants in the Negev and to steepen fines on businesses employing illegal migrants.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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