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Israeli minister seeks approval to deport all Sudanese, Eritrean refugees

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 31, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - Israel’s Interior Minister has requested for legal approval to allow authorities to carryout the mass deportation of tens and thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers and migrants.

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According to Israeli news outlets, interior minister, Eli Yishai, has called on the justice and foreign ministries to give him the authority to deport the remaining estimated 50,000 Sudanese and Eritrean refugees.

Yishai made the calls shortly after an Eritrean migrant alleged raped an elderly woman in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

Yishai said the shocking rape against the 83 year old lady demonstrates Israelis’ “lost sense of security” due to the presence of what he referred to as “infiltrators.”

He called on the ministries to permit him to wrap up his plans aimed "to stop the flow in of infiltrators and return them to their countries."

"Completion of the security barrier, the installation of detention center and passing a law that will allow the imprisonment of infiltrators" hinge on moves from the Foreign and Justice Ministries’ he said.

Currently there are some 30,000 Eritrean refugees in Israel and some 15,000 from Sudan.

According to ministry figures, the refugees from the two East African countries make up more than 80 percent of the total refugees Israel hosts.

All Eritreans between the age of 17 and 50 are required to do a mandatory national or military service for nearly two years however, refugees say the service is usually extended indefinitely.

Eritrea considers its fleeing nationals as traitors and deserters from the army and those who return often end up behind bars secret prison facilities in harsh conditions for an indefinite period without charges being pressed against them.

Risk analysts, Maplecroft, in 2012 ranked Sudan as the country with the world’s worst human rights index score and Eritrea with the 16th worst.

In June month hundreds of African asylum seekers marched on the UN offices in Tel Aviv, calling for fair treatment in the face of incendiary political rhetoric.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said that “the breach of our borders by infiltrators could threaten the Jewish and democratic state […] we will begin by removing the infiltrators from South Sudan and move on to others.”

Also, Israel’s interior minister, Eli Yishai, has said “Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man.”

Amid violent, 1,000-strong anti-immigrant protests in May in which African residents were attacked, Miri Regev, a legislator and member of Knesset (the legislative arm of the Israeli government), said that Sudanese refugees are a “cancer in our body.”

Despite the clear danger posed against the refugees, Israel however keeps threatening and deporting the African migrants, contrary to international law.