Amnesty to new Oz head: Refuse post

Amnesty urges new head o

oz unit inspector 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
oz unit inspector 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Amnesty International Israel on Sunday urged Yehuda Ben-Ezra, to reject his new post as head of the Oz immigration authority unit. In a letter to Ben-Ezra, Amnesty director Eitan Epstein wrote that the agency charged with expelling illegal migrants was "born in sin," and that Ben-Ezra should refuse the post. Ben-Ezra, who served as deputy commander of Oz, the six-month-old Interior Ministry unit, was appointed interim commander after the surprising resignation of unit founder, Tziki Sela, last week. Amnesty's Epstein wrote that, "The Oz unit has no justification; it was born in sin. Refugees from war-torn Africa ask Israel for sanctuary from religious and political persecution and from torture and genocide. The State of Israel has an historical, moral and legal obligation to honor the (1951) United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees it is a signatory to, and apply policies that respect its obligations to the treaty." Epstein said Israel should provide refuge for asylum seekers and be allowed to receive work permits and move freely throughout the country. He also took the opportunity to speak out against the planned deportation of 1,200 children of foreign workers born in Israel and their families. "The children of migrant workers are entitled to education, health and housing ,regardless of the question of the parent's status and the state must guarantee equal access to those services," wrote Epstein. "Mr. Ben-Ezra, if you want to act in Israel's favor, you must refuse the posting outright," concluded Epstein. Before joining Oz, Ben-Ezra served in various positions in the IDF. His last post was deputy commander of the southern command's engineers unit. Interior Minister Eli Yishai congratulated Ben-Ezra on the appointment. "This is a suitable appointment for a complex position and I'm sure Ben-Ezra will do a good job with the professionalism and determination required. Sunday saw another demonstration against the planned deportation of children and their families at the Rose Garden, opposite the Knesset. Roughly 50 people, all carrying banners and wearing shirts that read "I love Israel," called on the government to let the children and their families stay. In August, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared a three-month moratorium on the children's expulsion, pending a decision by a ministerial committee. With less than two weeks to go before the moratorium is over, no final decision has been declared, but Yishai has been quoted as saying that he would not grant permanent status to any of the children. Earlier in the day, farmers from across the country met in the Arava farming region in the south of Israel and threw out truckloads of fruits and vegetables. The mass disposal of fresh produce was a move to protest the government's refusal to issue work permits for foreign workers in the agricultural sector. Farmers claim they are losing money because of labor shortages, since the government won't allow additional Thai workers into Israel.