Israel’s immigration police raided neighborhoods in the cities of Eilat, Beersheba and Tel Aviv on Monday morning, arresting dozens of South Sudan asylum seekers in order to deport them. Israel’s Minister of the Interior: “this is not an operation against the infiltrators (sic), but a campaign to preserve the identity of a Zionist Jewish state.”
The arrests were made when the privatized force of Israel’s Ministry of Interior, the Oz Unit, swept through several major cities, detaining over 50 people. A majority of the detainees were South Sudan nationals, but nationals of other countries were also picked up. Among the arrested were two women, one with a baby and the other with a child of eight. The detainees were transferred to a holding facility of Oz Unit.
Human rights activists stated that the inspectors waited at the entrance to banks on a day when workers come to cash their monthly salaries. In addition, Oz officers went door to door in houses leased to asylum seekers in order to take people into custody.
The Oz Unit is a private police force acting as the law enforcement agency of the Population and Immigration Authority of Israel’s Ministry of Interior. It began operations in July 2009, replacing the immigration police. With the establishment of Oz, the Israeli government set a target of deporting 100,000 foreign nationals by the end of 2013.
The Immigration Authority began rounding up African migrants on Sunday, with eight arrests of South Sudan migrants in Eilat and central Israel.
The Population and Immigration Authority’s latest operation was made possible after the Jerusalem Administrative Court granted the State’s request to suspend the collective protection status granted to South Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel. The court’s decision effectively sanctioned the imminent deportation of some 1,500 people.
Interior Minister Yishai congratulated the court’s decision and added he “hopes this is the first step in a series of measures allowing us to deport [asylum seekers] from Eritrea and North Sudan.”
Earlier on Monday, Yishai said in an interview to Israel’s Army Radio that he is satisfied with the beginning of the deportation process and added that “either we send them home or we give up the Zionist dream.”
Speaking about the ongoing wave of arrests, Yishai added that “this is not an operation against the infiltrators (sic), but a campaign to preserve the identity of a Zionist Jewish state.”
* This article was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)