'Jail African migrants who don't leave willingly'

Interior minister Yishai says African migrants should be jailed or expelled; Aharonovich to request emergency meeting.

Eli Yishai 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Eli Yishai 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
African migrants who do not leave Israel willingly must be jailed or expelled, Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Army Radio Sunday.
"I need to return security to the citizens of Israel," Yishai said, adding that Israel can send migrants back to their home countries or a willing third country.
When asked about the morality of sending refugees back to their countries of origin, Yishai said that only a small fraction of the migrants are refugees, and that no other solutions were available. "Whoever is complaining should go to south Tel Aviv or invite the infiltrators to their neighborhood," Yishai said.
Labor MK Isaac Herzog noted that 70 percent of the migrants are of Eritrean origin, and said that the Eritrean government must be consulted in reaching a solution.
Also Sunday morning, Army Radio reported that Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich will request an emergency meeting on violence committed by African aliens at the weekly cabinet meeting.
Aharonovich will request the meeting, in part, based on police concerns that Israelis will respond to the recent violence with their own violent acts against African migrants.
Israel’s rapidly growing African migrant population of around 50,000 has become a hot-button issue over the past two years, and particularly in recent weeks.
African migrants were charged with two separate incidents of rape last week.
On Thursday, after a media ban on the case was lifted, police revealed that three Eritrean migrants are under arrest for allegedly raping a teenage girl and assaulting her boyfriend near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station late last month.
Three weeks ago, a series of buildings housing African migrants in south Tel Aviv, including a kindergarten, were hit by Molotov cocktails in attacks police say were carried out by a resident of the area’s Shapira neighborhood. Police have also made arrests in a series of sexual assaults in south Tel Aviv in recent weeks, which they say were carried out by African migrants.
NGOs working with the African migrant community have reported receiving anonymous threats in recent weeks.
Though the crime rate among African migrants is lower than among the general population, according to figures compiled by the Knesset in 2010, this fact is generally lost on the residents of these working class neighborhoods.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.