Nigerian immigrants face harrowing times in Israel
Thursday, August 16, 2012
By Albert Ohams
In what looks like a crackdown on immigrants in their country, Israel has started a massive deportation of Africans, comprising mainly Nigerians in what they called ‘operation clean up’. In the last few weeks, no fewer than 50 Nigerians have been deported from the Middle East country for reasons, ranging from what they termed illegal stay, work permit and other flimsy excuses.
During a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon African ambassadors in Israel had told him that even African diplomats in Israel are afraid to walk down the street due to the recent slew of offensive and racist statements made by Israeli politicians. The meeting, which was attended by the ambassadors of Angola, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast, was recently held in the Foreign Ministry’s offices in Jerusalem, Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper reported. This was after Israeli police arrested the wife of the Ghanian Ambassador where she was on shopping in Tel Aviv.
Israeli’s claim that immigrants are responsible for the ongoing series of rape and muggings committed in their country is a way of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Reports from Tel Aviv where most of the immigrants live show that most of them now hide inside their apartments without going to work for fear of being arrested while on the street. “Many Nigerians, living in Israel are very law-abiding and go about their normal businesses,” said an official of the Nigerian community, who doesn’t want his name in print.
The recent crackdown has seen Israeli authorities, arresting Nigerians with families and taking them to detention camps, sometimes with their very under-aged children where they face harsh punitive measures and untold hardship before being deported to their country. Mr. Iweka (real name withheld) from Enugu State said he had been living in Israel legally for twelve years, working in a restaurant but was deported on the orders of his employer, who didn’t want to pay his accumulated gratuity. He was arrested in his apartment by over 20 security agents and chained both legs and hands and bundled into a van, even after showing them his valid papers and driven to prison.
His lawyer took his case to court and after spending two months in the prison under harsh conditions, he was deported without concluding his case. He described is ordeal as racist, barbaric and unhuman. A member of the Israeli Knesset, Shlomo Molla (Kadima), has warned that: “The state has failed to do its diplomatic due diligence. No one wants to migrate here if they’re doing well…
It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to send them back but these events – abusing them like that – that’s wrong. I’ve seen case where people were physically hurt. If that’s not incitement – what is?” he wondered. Another member of Israeli Knesset, K Dov Khenin (Hadash), read testimonies given by teens suspected of assaulting migrants, detailing the violent abuse they had perpetrated. He further deplored the government’s actions against them. To worsen the situation, the Nigerian Embassy officials have never intervened in these ugly incidents being meted on Nigerians, our source revealed.