- On January 10, Haaretz writer Jonathan Lis headlined,
"Knesset passes (Law to Prevent Infiltration) that could put asylum
seekers in jail without trial," saying:
- "The bill would make 'illegal' migrants and asylum
seekers liable to jail, without trial or deportation, if caught staying
in Israel for 'long periods.' "
- Moreover, anyone helping them or providing shelter faces
five to 15 years in prison for being a good samaritan. Avoiding it involves
proving they didn't know the refugee lacked residency status and wasn't
guilty of alleged criminality.
- Netanyahu and extremists around him sponsored the bill.
It followed a similar July 2010 proposal, dropped after widespread criticism.
- The measure amends the 1954 Law to Prevent Infiltration.
Limited to emergency conditions, it specifically targeted Palestinian and
other Arab Fedayeen freedom fighters.
- The new measure targets refugees and asylum seekers and
families. Minimally, they'll be imprisoned for three years. However, detentions
may be extended indefinitely.
- The law only allows judicial oversight by an administrative
court after 14 days. It's forbidden to release detainees sooner than three
years except under very hard to prove extraordinary humanitarian circumstances.
- The bill's previous version mandated life sentences for
refugees and asylum seekers convicted of property damage, including offenses
as minor as graffiti. Persons providing aid faced five to 15 year sentences.
- The Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) in Israel called
the 2010 measure "one of the most dangerous bills ever presented in
the Knesset." Despite softening, its new version remains brazenly
draconian, undemocratic and shameful.
- ACRI calls it "draconian and immoral, and its entire
purpose is to deter refugees from entering Israel. The law blatantly disregards
Israel's most basic commitments as a member of the community of nations
and as a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees."
- "The State of Israel has the right to protect its
borders, but not by trampling human rights and ignoring democratic values."
- In 2010, ACRI explained "lies and reality"
in the bill's original version. It main provisions included:
- imprisoning legitimate asylum seekers for five years
- incarcerating Darfur, Sudan refugees for seven years
- those entering with weapons faced minimal 20 year sentences,
including for having an ordinary pocket knife;
- organizations or individuals providing medical care,
food or water, legal help, and/or shelter were criminally liable;
- those caught entering could be summarily deported to
war zones or nations with notorious human rights records;
- if not immediately deported, imprisonment or indefinite
- judicial review was prohibited for two weeks or longer;
- women and children would be treated like men.
- The current measure targets persons entering Israel without
permission or caught carrying weapons or drugs. It also applies if convicted
of human trafficking. Most of its original provisions remain.
- The bill's sole purpose is to deter refugees and asylum
seekers from entering Israel for any purpose. In addition, migrant worker
residents can be imprisoned for three years to life for misdemeanor type
- Before passage, Hadash party MK Dov Khenin called the
bill "dangerous, immoral, unconstitutional and contrary to the law
of human dignity and freedom. It runs contrary to Israel's international
commitments, and the Knesset should reject it out of hand."
- Israel's Disturbing History
- Israel's inhospitable history is appalling. Jews alone
are welcome. International law stipulates otherwise. Article I of the 1951
UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees calls them:
- "A person who owning to a well-founded fear of being
persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a
particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of
their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling
to avail him/herself of the protection of that country."
- The UN's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated
to help them. To gain legal protection, they must:
- be outside their country of origin;
- fear persecution;
- be harmed or fear harm by their government or others;
- fear persecution for at least one of the above reasons;
- pose no danger to others.
- The Knesset's 1950 Law of Return grants all Jews worldwide
the right to citizenship and residency. Yet no refugee law exists, despite
Israel being a signatory to the UN's 1951 Convention.
- Among Western states, Israel is least hospitable to refugees
and asylum seekers. At best, some get temporary limited stays. Most often,
they're summarily denied, including those with legitimate persecution fears.
- Although legally mandated to help, Israel consistently
- A Final Comment
- On January 11, a Haaretz editorial headlined, "Israel's
anti-infiltration law is a disgrace," saying:
- "Of all the antidemocratic laws that have descended
on us of late, it is perhaps the most shameful."
- Nonetheless, it passed 37 - 8. As a result, non-Jewish
refugees, asylum seekers, or migrants seeking work are criminalized.
- "Words fail in the face of such a disgraceful act
of legislation. Sending desperate human beings, who come to Israel"
with legitimate fears or for work can be imprisoned indefinitely without
- Most pose any threat whatever. Imprisoning them "is
intolerable." Nonetheless, "a jingoistic" draconian measure
- It's more proof of an out-of-control rogue terror state
unfit to live in. No wonder many Israelis vote with their feet and leave.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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