Faisel Migdadi, a Somalian national and illegal foreign worker, has spent the past four years in Immigration Police detention centers across the country. Like most foreign workers caught illegally residing in Israel, Migdadi is earmarked for deportation and an Israeli taxpayer-paid plane ticket back to his native country.
But while police have repeatedly tried to deport him, Migdadi as well as 14 other foreign nationals have found a loophole in the Israeli deportation process that has allowed him to stay in Israel, albeit in a detention center, instead of being sent back to his native country.
As a general rule, foreign nationals, including foreign workers, caught illegally in Israel are deported back to their native countries. But according to an arrangement with airline companies, the police are only allowed to deport people who are willing to board their homebound flights.
The airline companies, police said, refuse to fly someone who does not want to board the plane out of fear they will disrupt the flight. Migdadi, police said, has spent the past four years refusing to board a flight home and there is almost nothing they can do about it.
"Our hands are tied," police noted Thursday. "This is a loophole in the system and it sometimes works to the benefit of the illegal aliens."
But while Migdadi holds the record for refusing a flight and staying in detention centers which are meant to be for short-term prisoners, most of the refusniks - as police called them - eventually give in.
"We have conventional ways of persuading people to get on their flights," head of the Immigration Police Asst.-Cmdr. Eliahu Aharoni told The Jerusalem Post. "We talk to them and basically just try and explain to them that it is better to be out free than to be locked up in prison."
But not all the illegal aliens agree. Migdadi, police said, is scared to return to Somalia and believes he has a better life in Israel, even if it is behind bars. Others refusing to leave included Andrew MacDonald - a Scottish national and pro-Palestinian activist who was arrested a month ago but has refused to board a plane to go home, claiming he was abducted from what he calls Palestine - the West Bank - and illegally transported to Israel.
In the case of Migdadi, Aharoni said, the police were in contact with the Red Cross to explore the possibility of transferring him first to a third country and then from there to Somalia.
"In general it is complicated to fly someone who doesn't want to get on a plane to African countries," he explained, "since even if we wanted to we wouldn't be able to have policemen accompany him due to security constraints in Africa."
In the end however, the Immigration Police chief is confident all of the 15 refuseniks will be deported. "We are creative and come up with original ideas for each and ever one of them," he said. "In the end, they will all board a flight home."