Israel Virtually Stops African Immigration

Government Claims Border Measures Cut Off Flow

getty images

By Reuters

Published November 04, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israel has stopped the unapproved influx of African migrants across its border with Egypt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday after months of intensive counter-measures on the once porous desert frontier.

More than 60,000 African migrants have walked into the Jewish state in recent years, some seeking work and others refuge. They have stirred fear for public order and demographics and prompted the government to build a fortified and closely patrolled fence between Israel and the Egyptian Sinai.

Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday that 54 migrants crossed the border in October and were all taken into custody - a steep decline from the some 2,000 migrants who came through monthly in mid-2012, many of them settling in Israeli cities.

“Given this figure, we can say explicitly that we have halted the infiltration. And now we have to focus on removing or returning those infiltrators who are already in the territory of Israel to their countries of origin,” the conservative premier said.

Israel considers the vast majority of the migrants to be illegal job-seekers, and in June launched a deportation drive against a few thousand from South Sudan and Ivory Coast. That campaign was fuelled by a spree of anti-African street violence.

The bulk of the migrants are from Sudan or Eritrea, and Israel’s ability to expel them is limited. The former country is a Muslim state with no ties to Israel and the latter is deemed a danger zone by humanitarian agencies.

Such agencies say many of the African migrants should be considered for asylum, and some Israelis have been troubled that their country, founded by war refugees and immigrants, should be packing off foreigners en masse.

srael was holding around 2,500 migrants caught at the Egyptian border or rounded up by city police in two desert stockades, an Israeli official told Reuters, adding that the relatively low number reflected the fact that “there has not yet been any major deportation campaign”.

William Tall, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Israel, saw in the Netanyahu government’s inaction against the Sudanese and Eritreans a de facto immunity.

“I think we all understand that if the government was capable of deporting them, it would have moved to do so long ago,” Tall said.

He agreed that migration across the Israel-Egypt border had dropped off “dramatically”, suggesting that among disincentives had been Cairo’s recent military mobilisation against jihadi groups in the Sinai.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.