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African asylum-seekers march to Jerusalem to protest detention, violently arrested [Video]

Israel/Palestine
on 28 Comments
מצעד הסודנים לירושלים

Marchers north of Beersheva on Route 40 on Monday. The Hebrew sign on the left reads, “Refugees Not Criminals.”

Update:  The marchers are spending the night in a hall at Kibbutz Nachson.  They are about 20 miles from Jerusalem. The head of the Knesset Interior Committee, Miri Regev, has said that the detainees would be arrested before they enter Jerusalem.

Update 2:  The demonstrators have been arrested and are being returned to the Holot detention center.  On Tuesday after arriving in Jerusalem, the detainees and their supporters marched from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office to the Knesset where they demonstrated for a couple of hours before being arrested.  According to Ha’aretz (Hebrew), the police used “much force” when taking the refugees to waiting buses.

This  horrifying tweet appeared minutes ago (9:30 AM EST) from the Israeli human rights organization which assisted the marchers.

Here is a riveting  video of the Immigration Police arresting about 200 African asylum-seekers. The commentary is basically in English.  Some of the demonstrators non-violently resisted.  Reports from the scene say that the police used excessive force in making arrests.  A member of the Israeli Parliament invited the protesters to make their case at the Knesset.  He says that the Knesset agreed to permit them to talk to the members, but the police ignored this.

refugee

Demonstrator who non-violently resisted arrest being detained near Israel parliament.

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A group of 150 – 200 African asylum seekers who were detained in a new Israeli Negev facility, Holot, are marching to Jerusalem to demand their right to remain and work in Israel as political refugees.  The detainees were not confined to the detention facility during the day, but were required by the authorities to spend nights incarcerated.

The marchers are supported by Israeli activists who are accompanying them during the walk.  Also on the scene are officials from the Ministry of Immigration who are not interfering with the march.

The demonstrators, who are mostly Sudanese, began the march on Sunday.  The detainees spent part of last night in the Beersheva central bus terminal where they were not allowed to board buses to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, according to reports.

The refugees are carrying signs in Hebrew and English which read, “you were strangers in the land of Egypt,” “refugees not criminals,” and “we are walking for freedom and human rights.”

The marchers were transferred to Holot from the Saharonim facility, where some have been held for as long as two years.

The demonstrators plan to arrive in Jerusalem tomorrow where they will be joined by 50 Eritrean asylum-seekers.

It is about 60 miles from Beersheva to Jerusalem.

The progress of the March For Freedom can be followed on Twitter at #MarchForFreedom and at @HRMIsrael.

Ira Glunts
About Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY. His twitter handle is @abushalom

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28 Responses

  1. just
    just
    December 16, 2013, 6:12 pm

    And ze government of Ozreal shrugs its shoulders.

    Such problems! So many “infiltrators”! What to do??? We are so good a state; we help everyone– we even flooded Gaza and they never said thank you. Such ingratitude we live with. And we are such a sexy people– how can it be?

    http://mondoweiss.net/2013/12/israel-uniquely-shavit.html

    • mondonut
      mondonut
      December 17, 2013, 1:06 am

      Great. So now the Zionists perpetrated the Gaza floods.

      • Eva Smagacz
        Eva Smagacz
        December 17, 2013, 2:34 pm

        Mondonut, Wadi Gaza, the watercourse that in winter brings water from Hebron Hills to replenish Gaza Aquifer, is dammed in number of places and water kept back in Israel.

        With storm Alexa, Israel opened all the dams.

      • jon s
        jon s
        December 17, 2013, 3:01 pm

        Eva, do you actually believe that Israel intentionally caused the flooding in Gaza?
        Also: Wadi Gaza, known in Israel as Nahal HaBesor, originates near Sde Boker, not the Hebron Hills.

      • Eva Smagacz
        Eva Smagacz
        December 18, 2013, 4:29 pm

        jon s,

        “Wadi Gaza, known as Nahal HaBesor, originates near Sde Boker, not Hebron Hills”

        Wadi Besor has a largest catchment area (Besor Basin) of the whole of Mediterranean. It has two areas of origin, so it’s waters originate both near Sde Boker and in the South Hebron Hills,( then taking the course through Arad and Be’er Sheva ), before joining common watercourse southeast of Gaza.

        And do I actually believe that Israel intentionally caused the flooding in Gaza?
        Yes, absolutely. I believe that Israel intentionally caused flooding in Gaza, to prevent the damage to its sophisticated hydrological infrastructure, which is, at great expense, designed to retain the water in Israeli mid-basin and not, God forbid, replenish Gaza Aquifer. But with unpredictable (and possibly larger than-normal) volumes of water brought with storm Alexa, Israel opened all the dams letting the water to go directly to Gaza, which had no infrastructure to deal with the deluge which spilled the sewage mixed with rainwater into the build up areas.

        Israel then magnanimously lent Gaza 4 water pumps.

      • jon s
        jon s
        December 19, 2013, 12:45 pm

        A week ago Israel was reeling from the impact of the storm: power outages, roads blocked, flooding, economic paralysis, schools and businesses closed, millions of dollars worth of damage – and you think that in the midst of all that, someone here decided to flood Gaza?
        Nobody “opened all the dams”…pure nonsense.

      • jon s
        jon s
        December 20, 2013, 11:07 am

        Amira Hass in Haaretz today. Note no mention of “opening the dams”:

        http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.564521

  2. Krauss
    Krauss
    December 16, 2013, 6:29 pm

    We had Freedom riders.
    Now we have Freedom marchers.

    Will the NYT sympathize with the plight of the oppressed in Israel with the same moral force as it condemned Jim Crow in America? The NYT certainly devotes a lot of space to Israel, so it’s not like it does not care about what happens in the country. We even get to read Hagopgraphic profiles of generals overseeing apartheid in the West Bank.

    • Marco
      Marco
      December 17, 2013, 12:45 am

      “We had Freedom riders.
      Now we have Freedom marchers.”

      It’s 2013. It’s more than shocking that this doesn’t awaken the conscience of most of the American Jewish establishment.

      It’s an abomination.

      How can this be? Did we just not all agree that Mandela’s death, taking into account his faults, was the passing of a great man, a fighter for justice and human rights? Even conservatives outside of the reactionary fringe agreed for the most part.

      How can it be that conservative, moderate, liberal, and progressive Jewish Americans who join in a consensus in support of the civil rights movement – in retrospect anyway – suddenly become silent on the issue of African refugees and their racist treatment in Israel?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 17, 2013, 10:01 am

        @Marco —

        How can it be that conservative, moderate, liberal, and progressive Jewish Americans who join in a consensus in support of the civil rights movement – in retrospect anyway – suddenly become silent on the issue of African refugees and their racist treatment in Israel?

        Maybe because their critics always assume the worst of them, like the objection to Sudanese is based on race? A more charitable explanation is that Israel law has no concept of asylum seekers. They are constructing law to handle the Sudanese and having an internal discussion. In addition they are having external discussions and partnering with the UNHCR (which incidentally is not nearly so negative, funny how the UN only has credibility when they say bad stuff about Israel). Mostly their treatment of these people has been humane and they are given social services and off the book employment. 100% are illegal immigrants which many countries just deport without question. So instead of complementing Israel on how humanely they treat illegals, you attack them for racism.

        Why would you expect any substantial group of Jews anywhere to support lying about Israel for negative political effect?

      • talknic
        talknic
        December 17, 2013, 10:53 am

        @JeffB“A more charitable explanation is that Israel law has no concept of asylum seekers”

        The ‘asylum’ state for Jewish folk has no concept of asylum seekers… WOW!!!

        “…funny how the UN only has credibility when they say bad stuff about Israel “

        If you say so

        “Mostly their treatment of these people has been humane and they are given social services and off the book employment”

        Source for this ‘off the book’ employment… thx … wouldn’t want to have you caught out lying

        “100% are illegal immigrants “

        They’re asylum seekers .. I.e., not illegal until processed (thinks .. illegal immigration by Jews to the British Mandate for Palestine in contravention of the 1939 British White Paper restrictions)

        “Why would you expect any substantial group of Jews anywhere to support lying about Israel for negative political effect?”

        Or positive political effect? Or is it one rule for Israel and another who attempt to have Israel adhere to the law/UN Charter

  3. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    December 16, 2013, 11:25 pm

    I don’t get it. Why can’t they just pack them on boats or planes and send them back to Africa? And if that doesn’t work, why don’t they just stick them in DP camps? I really don’t get it. It seems perfectly fine with TPTB when they do it to the Pal.s. I mean, if you can kick out 75% of the actual native population and then take their natural resources, and basically put them in ghettos, and Gaza will be uninhabitable in a few years I don’t understand what is stopping you from putting Africans who came from a whole ‘nother continent in DP camps. How do you even let them roam your country?

    (Please nobody take my post seriously).

  4. MahaneYehude1
    MahaneYehude1
    December 17, 2013, 12:41 am

    The marchers are spending the night in a hall at Kibbutz Nachson.

    The marchers are supported by Israeli activists who are accompanying them during the walk.

    Also on the scene are officials from the Ministry of Immigration who are not interfering with the march.

    Racist Society????

    • talknic
      talknic
      December 17, 2013, 10:39 am

      @ MahaneYehude1 “The marchers are supported by Israeli activists who are accompanying them during the walk …. Racist Society????”

      There was no need for support by Israeli activists then I guess…

      When someone points at one hole in the clouds and says its a clear day, advise a shrink

  5. MahaneYehude1
    MahaneYehude1
    December 17, 2013, 12:45 am

    The detainees spent part of last night in the Beersheva central bus terminal where they were not allowed to board buses to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, according to reports.

    Ira, please, link me to the reports. If this fact is true, I will submit a complaint to the ministry of transportation.

    • Ira Glunts
      Ira Glunts
      December 17, 2013, 8:51 am

      Mahane, I read that one of the ministries, either transportation or immigration officials were involved at the Beersheva bus station. If I find the news link, I will send it to you.

      • MahaneYehude1
        MahaneYehude1
        December 17, 2013, 11:21 am

        @talknic:

        No, I am not!!! As I suspected, they refused to board buses by the police and i think it was important to mention this point, since from the article, one can think the bus company refused to let them board:

        “On Sunday morning the Israel Prisons Service said that 54 detainees had left the facility over the weekend and had not returned, but by Sunday night it was clear the number was much higher, with activists and reporters stating that as many as 150 detainees were at the Beersheba Central Bus Station trying to make their way to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but that police wouldn’t let them board buses. They said that the men had left the facility on Sunday and had walked and hitchhiked and taken public transport to Beersheba, dozens of kilometers away.”

      • Ira Glunts
        Ira Glunts
        December 17, 2013, 1:08 pm

        Mahane, Below is the link you requested. It is in the third paragraph.

        According to this it was the Ministry of Immigration police that stopped the detainees from boarding the buses. They were on the scene at the Jerusalem demonstration today.

        I would be great if you could write them. If they were not permitted to arrest the Africans, I doubt that they were legally entitled to stop them from using the buses.

        Best,

        Ira

        הפליטים, רובם ככולם מבקשי מקלט מסודן, ביקשו לעלות על האוטובוסים שיצאו מבאר שבע לירושלים במטרה להגיע לקרית הממשלה ולהפגין על זכותם לקבל מקלט או לכל הפחות, שרשות ההגירה תבדוק את בקשות המקלט שלהם, דבר שלטענתם לא נעשה עד היום. פקחי רשות ההגירה ושוטרים שהגיעו למקום נמנעו אמנם מלעצור אותם, אולם גם מנעו מהם את האפשרות לעלות על האוטובוסים שיצאו למרכז הארץ.

        http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/531/359.html

      • MahaneYehude1
        MahaneYehude1
        December 17, 2013, 1:37 pm

        @Ira;

        Thank you very much. I thought that the bus company refused to board them on buses, act that is against the law (bus company has no permission to do it). Meanwhile, this story is in the main news in Israel, and it was explained that since they left the open detention facility (which they call “prison”) without permission, they were not allowed to board on the buses.
        Finally, they arrived today to Jerusalem and were arrested by the immigration police. I didn’t like PM Netanyahu response to question about the event “they must return to the detention facility or to go back to their countries”. I think Israel should find a fair solution to this groups, whether they are refugees or work seekers. Although their arrest is legal (so I can’t complain), at least I will send a protest letter.

  6. Sumud
    Sumud
    December 17, 2013, 12:20 pm

    I’m disappointed to report that my own country Australia treats asylum seekers worse even than Israel does: locks them in prisons – men, women and children – for years at a time.

    They couldn’t march if they wanted to.

    More than 90% are eventually ‘processed’ as genuine refugees – but the hell they have to go through to get there, it’s evil.

  7. jon s
    jon s
    December 17, 2013, 3:06 pm

    Has it occured to anyone to ask why, if Israel is such an evil, racist, apartheid , state, do so many Africans want to enter and remain in Israel. Shouldn’t they be doing everything possible to avoid it?

    • just
      just
      December 17, 2013, 3:38 pm

      That’s really cute, jon.

      Nice try.

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      December 17, 2013, 3:49 pm

      Ya guys, jon s is right!

      What’s Israel marketing campaign for the African refugees again?

      Israel, come for the racism and apartheid, stay for the forced sterilization! Am Chai IsraHell!

    • eljay
      eljay
      December 17, 2013, 3:50 pm

      >> Has it occured to anyone to ask why, if Israel is such an evil, racist, apartheid , state, do so many Africans want to enter and remain in Israel.

      That’s easy:
      – They can’t get to the best countries, such as Canada, Denmark, New Zealand or the United States (PDF); and
      – Israel, which is far from being as good as the best, is nevertheless better than the worst (Saudi Arabia or Mali).

    • Chu
      Chu
      December 17, 2013, 3:53 pm

      Classic trolling whitewash. Try not to drag your troll knuckles on the ground.

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel
      December 17, 2013, 3:59 pm

      Has it occured to anyone to ask why, if Israel is such an evil, racist, apartheid , state, do so many Africans want to enter and remain in Israel.

      Straw man hyperbole aside, African asylum seekers also risk extreme hardship and death just to get to destinations like Israel. You’d think they’d try to avoid that as well. Does that mean drowning or getting raped or murdered aren’t that bad? No, it just means that they are desperate. And yes, they do want to remain — not because they’ve discovered paradise on earth, but because the alternatives are even worse.

      I seem to recall apologists for South African apartheid making a similar argument, citing black migration to South Africa.

    • Walid
      Walid
      December 17, 2013, 4:01 pm

      Jon s, the problem is that Africans have a distorted opinion of Israel. The bells and whistles and other PR gimmicks that Israel constantly uses such as with the disaters jump teams accompagnied by the sniffing dogs and camera crews as well as past so-called adventurist rescue missions to Africa to repatriate the ancestors of Solomon are surely what gave the wrong idea about Israel to these assylum seekers. Had they known what fate awaited in the only democracy in the Middle East, they would have surely stayed in Africa.

      BTW, Israel and Australia aren’t the only countries bearing down on illegals; Saudia started the rounding up of about 4 million illegals that it wants out of the country pronto, supposedly to create jobs for Saudis that would take over the jobs vacated by the illegals.

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