While much of America’s media required smelling salts last week to revive itself from being grievously offended by a harmless wisecrack Don Rickles made about Obama, it barely noticed that Israel was ramping up efforts to detain and deport illegal African immigrants. Whether you prefer to dub the estimated 60,000 African expats currently in Israel as “migrants,” “refugees,” or “aliens,” in January the Knesset legally defined such types as “infiltrators.”
“They are close to being expelled either willingly or against their will,” Israeli interior minister Eli Yishai gloated. Late in May, Yishai, head of the floridly nationalist Shas party, had warned, “The infiltrators are going to reach the promised land but they aren’t going to see it at all, only through bars.”
Those bars are currently being constructed in southern Israel’s Negev Desert as part of a massive detention facility and adjacent “tent city” designed to hold an estimated 11,000 such infiltrators, most of whom are Eritrean and Sudanese. With construction expected to be completed in a few months, the giant desert prison will be the world’s largest such holding facility. An Israeli defense minister was careful to point out that the giant sandy Alien Detention Spa will feature hair salons and basketball courts.
“Anyone that penetrates Israel’s border should be shot,” Aryeh Eldad, member of the nationalist Hatikva party, recently said after touring the detention facility’s construction site. “Whoever touches Israel’s border—shot.”
Also scheduled to be completed later this year is a high-security 16-foot-tall steel wall running 150 miles along Israel’s border with the Egyptian Sinai—the “Great Wall of Yahweh,” if you will.
On Thursday, after weeks of street violence against Africans, an Israeli court allowed the detention process to begin.
Last Monday in Jerusalem, arsonists had set fire to an apartment that housed ten exiled Eritreans, four of whom required hospitalization. The attackers also spray-painted GET OUT OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD onto the apartment building.
Last Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the “swift deportation” of illegal African immigrants back to South Sudan, Ghana, Ethiopia, and the Ivory Coast.
Starting around 2005, Israel experienced a sudden invasive demographic herniation of sub-Saharan Africans who had escaped chaos in their homelands and fled north into Egypt, only to discover they weren’t wanted there, either. Their supporters call them refugees and their detractors call them welfare leeches and labor scabs.
Israel, whether you choose to view it as an ethno-state, a veiled theocracy, or some Dairy Queen Blizzard of the two, is notoriously stingy when it comes to granting asylum requests. Whereas Canada is said to rubber-stamp 96% of Eritreans who seek sanctuary amid its frosty borders, heat-baked Israel reportedly only approved a single asylum request in 2011 out of nearly 5,000 formal applications.
Before the new deportation process was greenlit on Thursday, African asylum-seekers were legally permitted to stay in Israel but were forbidden from working there. Scattered throughout the country but concentrated in south Tel Aviv, some found low-paying under-the-table jobs and cheap housing, while others found nothing and huddled together in public parks.
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