African Refugees & The #March4Freedom

As the crossroads of human migration since time immemorial, the land on which the state of Israel stands today connects the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa. After the route to Europe was blocked by the Lybian civil war in 2011, and unrest in Egypt made their struggle for asylum uncertain, thousands of refugees (mostly from Eritrea and Sudan) took that historic route, to Israel. But Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, and therefore does not have any process for immigration for non-Jews. Its struggle to maintain a Jewish majority has been at the heart of its conflict with the Palestinians, and now, also the refugees who found themselves at the front of a national debate about the country's very nature. While Israel's Left argued they must be given asylum, most supported the government's five-point plan against them. The first step was deporting the Congolese, South Sudanese, Lybian, and other refugees. The second, construction of a 240-km fence along Israel's Egyptian border. For the first time the land bridge between the three continents was severed.
Next steps included building an "open prison" camp in the middle of the Negev Desert, amidst Israel's security jail complex and military zones where its army trains for war. The last step was "making their lives so miserable, they would leave on their own," as Gideon Sa'ar, then Minister of Interior told the Hebrew press.  The refugees were then forbidden from working, forced many into the black market and exploited, and then hunted by a new racial-profiling unit of the police. Once arrested, refugees are sent en mass to the desert prison, called Holot, where they are kept indefinitely. In December 2013, the refugees simply walked out, sparking a national movement known as the #March4Freedom. Their struggle was documented by Lia Tarachansky in an upcoming documentary, ETHNOCRACY IN THE PROMISED LAND alongside journalist/filmmaker Jesse Freeston for Latin America's largest public broadcaster, TeleSUR.
Becoming a Zero Refugee State

Following multiple Supreme Court decisions, the Israeli government is shutting down it's giant prison for refugees. In the final stage of it's plan to become the first Zero Refugee state, Israel is deporting the last of the African asylum seekers by "selling them" in exchange for arms, circumventing international law.

Israel Begins to Confiscate 20% of Asylum-Seekers' Incomes 

 

Documentary filmmaker Lia Tarachansky explains that the income garnishing measure targets African refugees and is intended to discourage asylum in Israel March 16, 2017

Israeli Activist Accuses Interior Minister of Int'l Law violations


Israeli activist Tamar Aviyah who volunteers with African refugees accuses Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar at his home over violations of international refugee law -   May 13, 14

Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade
with Africa


Rwanda and Uganda agree to take African refugees as part of arms deal after Israel denied their asylum claims and imprisoned them. - Apr 20, 2014

Visiting Israel's "Open Prisons" for African Refugees
 

Following a spike in imprisonment of African refugees in Israel, refugees & supporters protest desert prisons. - Jan 21, 2014

Why Eritrean Asylum Seekers Come to Israel


Siom Domoz is an asylum seeker from Eritrea and one of the central figures in this week's historic refugee freedom movement in Israel. - Jan 7, 2014 

African Refugees in Israel On Historic Strike

 

Tens of thousands of asylum seekers launched a three-day strike, demos outside embassies, and the largest refugee protest in the country's history. - Jan 6, 2014

Unprecedented Refugee March Sweeps Tel Aviv


Thousands took to the streets after a week of hundreds of arrests of asylum seekers who marched from Israel's new open-air prison. - Dec 22, 2013

Israel Denies Food and Entry to 20 Eritrean Refugees
 

Israeli activists attempted Tuesday night to reach a group of asylum seekers to deliver them food, before being turned back by IDF soldiers. - Sep 5, 2012 

Incitement Against Refugees leads to Racist Attacks in Israel


After weeks of violence, incitement against African refugees living in Israel's poorest neighborhoods led to a race riot and a wave of protests. - Jun 6, 2012 

Israel Begins Deportation of South Sudanese Refugees
 

Despite renewed conflict and UN warnings, Israel begins deporting South Sudanese asylum seekers. - Mar 18, 2012 

Israel to become biggest jailer of refugees


Knesset approves plan to jail asylum seekers for longest period of western world in biggest prison. - Jun 14, 2012