Telling Stories, Changing the Conversation

The purge: Israel gives African migrants two options: leave or jail

in Africa & the Diaspora/Highlights/World Affairs by

Infiltration System

In Israel, African migrants are labeled the pejorative term “infiltrators.” According to officials, Africans drain resources and take jobs, as well as disturb the Jewish cultural identity.

Previous measures show Israel implement progressively aggressive measures making it uncomfortable for Africans.

Last July, Israel introduced a tax on African residents where money taken from their salary could only be accessed if they left the country.

According to Gideon Kinda, a professor at Tel Aviv University who teaches in the department of labor studies, in an interview by Haaretz, the terminology describing migrants shifted from “refugee” or “asylum seeker” to “infiltrator”. Kinda says that the term has historical roots.

He says, “It’s part of our collective memory, going back to the early period of the state, to Ma’aleh Akrabim [a 1954 attack on a bus in the Negev in which 11 Israelis were shot dead by cross-border marauders] and to Palestinians who tried to return to their land.

Israel is part of a collective of nations attempting to stop African migration. More so, the European Union has budgeted programs to provide employment opportunities in Africa that provide incentive in not migrate.

Israel’s measures are some of the more extreme.Since mid-2000s, African refugees came to Israel through Egypt’s border. In 2012, Israeli residents began protesting African migration. Shortly thereafter, Israel officials proposed and constructed a steel wall, which reduced immigration to zero in 2017.

At a press conference, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

    “The infiltrators have a simple choice, cooperate with us and leave voluntarily, respectably, humanely, and legally, or we haver to use the many other tools at our disposal, which are also according to the law.”

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