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Israel offers $9,000 to citizens who help deport asylum seekers by force

Migrants were given a three-month deadline to leave the country or face arrest [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 January, 2018

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Israel has tasked its citizens to help in enforcing its plan to expel nearly 40,000 Africans by force - offering them up to 30,000 shekels.
Israel said it will pay almost $9,000 dollars to citizens who help in the forced expulsion of ayslum seekes.

Volunteer civilians who are willing "to temporarily serve as inspectors in the expulsion of asylum seekers" will be given a bonus payment of up to 30,000 shekels ($8,705), Haaretz reported.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities "published a notice that it is hiring 100 inspectors on a temporary basis for terms of two years, from March 2018, as well as 40 investigators for the unit that examines asylum requests".

The 'inspectors' will be working in the greater Tel Aviv area, with some hired for the voluntary repatriation program and others to enforce laws against asylum seekers and their employers.

According to the newspaper, the job "would entail holding hearings for the asylum seekers; interviewing and documenting the ones prepared to leave 'voluntarily'; coordinating and issuing travel papers and coordinating flights; accompanying asylum seekers; and monitoring their re-entry to their countries or origin or elsewhere."

The others would be involved in the "enforcement of laws against asylum seekers and their employers. Their job would be to find them, record their stories and investigate the employers as well".

"Experience in combat or security is a plus", the statement added.

Israel is set to expel nearly tens of thousands of Africans in a migrant relocation plan that has been described by the UN as "incoherent and unsafe".

The plan, originally introduced in November, will see the 38,000 African migrants, mainly Eritrean and Sudanese, who have entered the country illegally, leave by the end of March.

African migrants have been promised a plane ticket and $3,500, however those that miss the deadline and refuse to leave, will face arrest.

UN calls to scrap plan

The new regulations passed by the Israeli government means that authorities are not required to "threaten them with a choice of voluntary departure or jail, simply to seize them and take them to a plane".

The plan was widely criticised when first unveiled last year, but the UN refugee agency [UNHCR] sounded a fresh alarm after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's announcement early this month that the program had begun.

"UNHCR is again appealing to Israel to halt its policy of relocating Eritreans and Sudanese to sub-Saharan Africa," the agency said in a statement.

Israel has not clearly said where the migrants will go, but tacitly recognises it is too dangerous to return the Sudanese and Eritreans home.

As a result, according to activists in Israel, it has signed deals with Rwanda and Uganda, which agree to accept departing migrants on condition they consent to the arrangement.

Uganda has publicly denied any such deal. Rwanda has also dismissed its involvement, according to the UN.

UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said the fact that the purported host countries were denying their role made it impossible for the UN to follow up.

UNHCR said it had spoken to 80 people who were flown with the $3,500 to Rwanda before heading north, travelling to Rome through conflict zones in South Sudan, Sudan and Libya.

"Along the way they suffered abuse, torture and extortion before risking their lives once again by crossing the Mediterranean to Italy," UNHCR said in a statement, explaining that its staff interviewed the migrants in Rome.

Spindler called on Israel to find alternative solutions to the problem, stressing that the UN was ready to help with formal resettlement through official channels.

Overt racism

A sharp shift to the right in Israeli politics has given rise to an increasingly vocal push to isolate African asylum seekers and ultimately return them to their homelands. Darfur and Eritrea, being the majority, are both riddled by instability, long running conflicts and political oppression.

Between January 2016 to March 2017, a total of 311 citizens of Sudan and Eritrea were detained without trial.

Nationalist anti-immigration protests regularly turn violent with random beatings of Africans and the ransacking of their properties or shops. 

Demonstrators have chanted slogans such as: "Stop talking, start expelling" and "Blacks out!", while other protesters have derided the "bleeding-heart leftists" working to help them.

Netanyahu noted that after building a fence on the Egyptian border and deporting some 20,000 African migrants through various deals, Israel has reached the third stage of its efforts - "accelerated removal".

"This removal is taking place thanks to an international agreement I reached that enables us to remove the 40,000 infiltrators remaining, remove them without their consent," he told ministers.

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