African migrants protest for the third day in a row, Jan. 7, Tel Aviv..
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Thousands of African asylum seekers gathered in Levinsky park on Tuesday morning
where they held speeches and a discussion to determine where to take the protest
movement next, after two days of a national strike called by the community.
At 2 p.m. they held a press conference where they discussed where to take
the protest next. Protest leaders said at the press conference that although they are tired and the pressure against them is great, they have no choice but to fight for what they believe are their rights.
Speakers called for a march to Jersualem to take place on Wednesday, but said that if they
don't get police approval they will stay at Levinsky indefintely.
vowed that the protests would continue without stopping until Israel cancels the
implementation of the anti-infiltration amendment and reviews their asylum
Today also marks the third day of a hunger strike at the Saharonim closed detention center in the Negev, where 130 asylum-seeking prisoners are refusing to eat in protest of their detention.
Demonstrations earlier in the week drew tens of thousands of migrant protesters, who rallied in Tel Aviv on Sunday in Rabin Square and on Monday outside a number of foreign embassies.
On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in response to the protests: “I want to clarify that no rallies or strikes will help.”
“Just as we succeeded in completely blocking illegal infiltration of our borders, we are determined to remove those who managed to enter before we closed the border,” he said at a meeting of the Likud Beytenu faction.The prime minister clarified that he was not talking about refugees, who he said are treated according to international norms.
“These are illegal work infiltrators, and we are determined to fully bring them to justice,” he said. Netanyahu said that in 2013, the government deported 2,600 illegal migrants, six times as many as in 2012, and that he plans to remove even more in 2014.
A few dozen Eritrean migrants have relocated to Sweden in recent weeks following an agreement reached between Jerusalem and Stockholm, the Interior Ministry reported on Tuesday.
The Interior Ministry said that the migrants left as part of the “ongoing process of willful deportation to Sweden.”
They added that the move was also done in collaboration with the United Nations and that each Eritrean migrant received a payment of $3,500.
According to ministry figures, a total of 2,612 migrants willfully left Israel in 2013, of these 1,955 were from Sudan and 461 from Eritrea. The ministry said that in 2012, the number was a total of 461.
The Israel NGO Assaf, which assists African asylum seekers, said Tuesday that the resettlement of the 54 Eritrean women was arranged in recent months between them, the UNHCR in Israel, and governemnt represetntatives from Sweden who had visited Israel and decided on their own to help these women.