Just weeks before their imminent deportation, a group of Filipino children together with their mothers demonstrated outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday night calling on the government not to go ahead with their decision.Until now, the government’s policy has failed to significantly affect the deportation of Filipino children and their mothers, most of whom are believed to be illegal migrant workers.
In 2012, the deportation policy was halted and a decision was made to allow children over the age of five, who were born in the country, to remain in Israel, Channel 13 reported.However, in February a decision by the government was made to deport Filipino children above the age of five, even if they were born in Israel, together with their mothers, back to the Philippines. Haaretz reported at the time that nearly 1,500 Filipino children are enrolled in the Israeli educational system. The report added that most children speak Hebrew as their first language and many had never even visited the Philippines.On Tuesday night, the young demonstrators stood outside Netanyahu’s home chanting and holding signs with slogans in both Hebrew and English.One sign read, “Children should not be arrested, children should not be deported, Children are not criminals!”Another sign read in Hebrew: “We are children of Israel,” while several others were decorated with Israeli flags and hearts, as well as the words, “We love Israel! Please stop the deportations.”Following February’s decision, the Filipino Foreign Affairs Department called on Israel “to treat overstaying Filipinos who need to be repatriated in an orderly and benignant manner, especially since children may be involved," Philippines news site the Rappler reported.The appeal was made “on the sidelines of annual bilateral consultations between the Philippines and Israel.”Filipino foreign undersecretary for migrant workers’ affairs told the online news site that the Foreign Affairs Department "stands ready to provide reintegration assistance to all those being repatriated since they are Philippine citizens."
Filipino children protest outside the Prime Minister"s residence