An eight-year-old boy from Ghana without Israeli citizenship was arrested on Thursday by immigration police in the middle of the school day in Jaffa.
The officers called the school's principal before they got there and claimed that they only wanted to ask the child a few questions about his mother in the presence of a social worker. Instead, they placed him in a car that his mother was already in and drove away.
Since then, the boy Asafo has been in the custody of the Population and Immigration Authority.
"I went to pick Asafo up from school," said his father Benjamin. "But the police came with his mother and took him. Afterward, his teacher told me that they're not allowed to take him from school."
Benjamin and Asafo's mother split up after they got to Israel and he is currently Asafo's main caretaker.
"I don't know what to do now," he said.
"I want Asafo back."Benjamin
Immigration police are not allowed to arrest children from school
Director of Education Administration in the Tel Aviv Municipality Shirley Rimon Bracha discussed the incident in a letter sent to the city's schools' principals.
"The mind and the heart cannot stand such images of an eight-year-old boy being taken by the police from school," she wrote. "All the more so not in the Jewish state, and not in a Jewish democratic state."
Rimon added that in 2019, Tel Aviv's Mayor Ron Huldai agreed with the administration of the Population and Immigration Authority that it wouldn't conduct arrests of children during the school year.
"The mayor will try to emphasize these understandings," said Rimon and instructed the school principals not to cooperate with the immigration police if they tried to arrest children from school again.
In a statement, the Population and Immigration Authority said that Asafo's mother is "an illegal resident from Ghana who has been in Israel for a few years and was asked to leave Israel in the past and that she had even signed a commitment to do so. The woman has two children who live in Ghana and another child who lives with her in Israel. She was arrested last week and released after she committed to continue the process with her son.
"When she showed up without her son and refused to cooperate, the workers at the Enforcement and Foreigners Administration were forced to go with her to the school in coordination with the school principal and with her help, the boy was taken out to the car with his mother and joined her for the rest of the process to expel them from Israel."