Thousands of African migrants staged a huge protest in central Tel Aviv on Sunday in opposition to Israel’s new migrant detention policy.
Three weeks ago parliament passed a law which allows authorities to detain migrants without valid visas indefinitely.
Since then dozens of men from mainly Eritrea and Sudan with families to support have been arrested.
“We are asking that the Israeli government do three simple things: First, is to cancel the new law and release prisoners. Second is to check our asylum requests. Third is to give the basic human rights including the right to work and right for health services and so on,” explained Eritrean migrant Daud Nemos.
Social worker Noa Erental expressed her sympathies with the migrants:
“The problem is that people who want human rights and came here to a democratic country, searching for a safe place, are sent to prison, they are treated as prisoners, as criminals, as a cancer, some people call them cancers in Israel.”
The new government measure has drawn criticism from the UN refugee agency. It accuses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of not conforming to the 1951 world treaty on the treatment of refugees. However the Israeli leader says the migrants are not refugees but people who are breaking the law.
Some 60,000 African migrants currently live in Israel.