African migrants protest outside Israel parliament in Jerusalem

BY TIA GOLDENBERG JERUSALEM — Thousands of African migrants demanding to be recognized as refugees protested Wednesday outside of Israel's parliament, part of a series of mass demonstrations over their status in Israel. Police said more than 10,000


JERUSALEM — Thousands of African migrants demanding to be recognized as refugees protested Wednesday outside of Israel’s parliament, part of a series of mass demonstrations over their status in Israel.

Police said more than 10,000 migrants rallied outside the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, with hundreds more continuing to stream into Jerusalem from across the country. The migrants staged two other mass protests this week in Tel Aviv, where they demanded the right to work and better treatment.

The migrants chanted “we are refugees, we need protection,” as they raised their hands into the air.

“I want to ask the Israeli government to listen to our voices, to check our asylum requests, in a transparent way,” Dawit Domuz, an Eritrean migrant and protest leader, told Israel Radio.

Eri_Jerusalem_2In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which migrant leaders read aloud at their protest outside the Knesset, migrant representatives demanded that Israel release migrants from detention centers, process their asylum requests, and enter a dialogue with them.

Dovish lawmakers invited migrant protest leaders into the Knesset to discuss their plight.

“We need to see them as human beings. They haven’t done anything illegal,” Michal Rozin, a legislator who invited the migrants to the Knesset, told Israel Radio. “We are calling for a proper policy in regards to them as long as they remain here.”

However, parliament speaker Yuli Edelstein barred their entry into the parliament building, fearing that their presence in parliament could provoke violence, said Edelstein spokesman Eran Sidis.

“These protesters are actually coming to demonstrate against Israeli laws and they are not acting according to Israeli laws. We cannot turn the parliament into a joke,” hard-line lawmaker Miri Regev told Israel Radio.

Tens of thousands of migrants, most from Eritrea and Sudan, have come to Israel in recent years, with many working menial labor jobs at hotels or restaurants.

Eri_Jerusalem_3The migrants say they are refugees who have fled strife in their home countries. Israel sees many of them as economic migrants and has tried a number of tactics to stop the migrants’ influx or keep their numbers down. It has built a fence along the border with Egypt, passed a law that allows for the migrants’ detention and offered financial incentives to urge them to leave.

Many Israelis fear that the migrants’ presence threatens the Jewish character of their country, and some blame them for rising crime rates in the low-income Tel Aviv neighborhoods where many have settled.

International law bars Israel from sending the migrants back to their countries because their lives would be in danger. With no other country volunteering to take in the migrants, critics say Israel has dragged its feet in reviewing individual migrants’ claims for refugee status.

Source: Associated Press

Review overview
  • rti January 9, 2014

    I hope and pray that, this new year will bring a resolution, peace and stability in our beloved country Eritrea, so, many of us who desire to go back can. Awet to the Eritrean people!

  • Shaq January 9, 2014

    May God grant them their wishes . It’s just a matter of days, my eritrean brothers and sisters before this evil empire falls. Keep your head up , there is time for every thing. What goes around comes around. May God bless all my Eritrean people, even the evil ones. Rest in peace Wedi Ali, and his friends

    • ahmed saleh January 9, 2014

      My thought doesn’t differ from rti and Shaq .
      I wish the evil who cause all their miseries disappear from our country . Then they will
      have a choice to return home freely anytime
      they prefer.

  • Tesfit January 9, 2014

    If we had a one day demonstration of this kind in Asmara, the regime would fall the next morning.

  • Bokre January 9, 2014

    What has the demonstration got to do with the Eritrean flag? You are asking and pleading the State of Israel for your rights to claim asylum which is fair and legal. You need to raise the Israeli flag – the Star of David – with your slogans written in Hebrew and English.
    In the same manner when you go to the White House of US or the Swedish Parliament, you need to raise the American flag and the Swedish flag respectively. Eritrea and the Arab states along the Arab passage had all denied your rights to ask asylum.
    Respect the laws of the State of Israel and demand your rightful demands peacefully that Eritrea and the regimes in the Arab passages denied you.

    Good luck

    • Tesfit January 9, 2014

      You are not necessarily wrong. At the same time, it is all too common for demonstrating immigrants around the world to carry both flags – that of their host’s and the native’s. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Besides, how would the Israeli public and the international community identify Eritreans and their grievances if there is no Eritrean flag at these demos? They would just be called the generic description “Africans” and that won’t be justice because South Africans [for example] in Israel do not need the protection Eritreans badly need. I hope you are getting what am trying to say here.

  • abrham January 10, 2014

    I think this eritrean flag is not necessary in this demo.B/ce if you are rising this flag in esrael it means you are asking to go and get it and it is in eritrea.If you are asking to remain in esrael you gave to rise esraely flag.You emagine whenever the world the demonetratores are rising what they are demanding but for you are rising what you don’t want to reach its place.Don’t mean i am saying you hate this flag but if you don’t want to go back to eritrea it is depending to eritrea

  • tesfit January 10, 2014

    this all demonstration aimed the Israel government to accept us a refugee but not infiltrators, please I want to help from every African to raise his hand for support, announcing in mass media

  • Truly Truly i say to you January 10, 2014

    Do not tell me Israel´s worry is baseless and injustice! Imagin this tiny nation is 5 times smaller than Eritrean territory ; and its population is almost double more than Eritrea. If alone from tiny nation of Eritrea more than 40,000 citizens seeking asylum, how could you do not understand their problems in regarding of national security, culture, social and others sensible isues fear that they could have? What about about if that coutry filled by foreigners about its citizens identity regardings? Please put Eritrean nation in position of Israel, and judge to yourself, let alone from Whole world alone if millions Ethiopians for different reasons if inter in our land , do you accept that? Or are you going to tell me, that matter is nothing to worry about? Myself not from rascist motive but i never accept that to happen and almost all Eritreans sharing with my view, despite we are so poor and backward. So why do you blaming Isrel as resist?
    One of from the ten commandments of God says this.
    “do not desire another man´s house, his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys or anything else that he owns.” (Exodus 20, 17)
    In other word , anything that you do not like or wish to happen on you, do not wish to others.
    So if Eritreans need to solve their problem they have to ask Israeles to support them to topple the dictator in Eritrea to the cause of all our problems . That is the right solution all sides that can satisfy.