Hadash against Interior Minister’s racist statement

The African refugees in Israel should be rounded up in prisons or holding facilities and then deported from the country, Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said in a radio interview on Wednesday morning. “They should be put into holding cells or jails,” he said, “and then given a grant and sent back” to their countries of origin. His remarks came the morning after police arrested four Eritrean and Sudanese men on suspicion of raping a woman in south Tel Aviv. South Tel Aviv has a high concentration of Africans, most of whom are refugees.

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) condemned Yishai’s comments, calling them incitement and racism – not befitting a democracy. Putting illegal entrants in jail would be undemocratic, said Khenin. “I was very sorry to hear what the Minister of the Interior said… We need to deal harshly with a few criminals, but we also need to provide solutions for the majority those who aren’t criminals,” he said.

Refugees hold Matzoth (unleavened bread) during an event marking the Jewish holiday of Passover in Levinsky Park in south Tel Aviv, April 4. 2012 (Photo: Activestills
Michal Pinchuk, director of the Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel (ASSAF) also condemned Yishai’s remarks, saying that he “took advantage of individual criminal cases in order to incite against an entire population. These statements give legitimacy to racism and may lead to criminal acts, like those that took place recently against asylum seekers.” She added that the government should find a real solution that allows refugees to live in dignity and not use immoral methods such as detentions and deportations to deal with the problem.