Anti-deportation activists gather at Ethiopian Airlines in Tel Aviv Monday to protest its role in deporting African migrants..
(photo credit: ZAZIM COMMUNITY ACTION)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) claimed at the Knesset’s State Control Committee on Monday residents of south Tel Aviv are living in a state of “terror” propagated by African “infiltrators” from Eritrea and Sudan.
The vast majority of African migrants were given one-way bus tickets to the impoverished neighborhood by the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority after entering from Egypt.
Despite providing no police data to support her allegations, Hotovely insisted: “There is infiltrator terror in southern Tel Aviv.”
“Citizens are living under the terror of the infiltrators, and are suffering from violence,” she said, claiming that refugee-status claims are unfounded.
“Stop calling them ‘refugees,’” Hotovely insisted. “The attempt to present migrant workers as refugees is political and does not reflect reality. The government of Israel has decided to deport migrant workers, as is customary in many democratic countries, including the United States and Australia.”
She continued: “They will be removed to very safe countries, where there is a regime that will enable them to lead high-quality lives. They will receive $3,500. That’s a huge amount, and they can do almost anything they want with it.”
MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) accused Hotovely and the government of creating a “false reality,” and lack of transparency with respect to the deportations of 20,000 African migrants beginning April 1 to an unnamed country, widely believed to be Rwanda.
“The agreement signed by the Israeli government is the only one of its kind in the world that is under a cloak of secrecy and categorically denied,” she said, adding that refugees sent to Rwanda are not given status and forced to flee to a safer region.
Meanwhile, more than 100 pro-refugee activists protested in front the Ethiopian Airlines office in Tel Aviv on Monday, for cooperating with the scheduled expulsion of 20,000 single Eritrean and Sudanese men. Some 18,000 married men, women and children are being spared deportation for now.
Last month, pilots from El Al joined a campaign initiated by the NGO Zazim Community Action, refusing to fly deported Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers to Rwanda or any dangerous African country.
According to the NGO, security guards at Ethiopian Airline’s entrance violently dispersed the activists on Monday morning and did not allow them to submit 12,500 letters from Israelis opposing the expulsion on humanitarian grounds.
“The letters have already convinced pilots and Israeli air crews not to cooperate with the expulsion, but some foreign companies, including Ethiopian Airlines, are already flying hundreds of refugees a month to their deaths, and that we are obliged to stop,” the NGO said.