‘We’re not the US or Europe’: African migrants can now be deported from Israel

Because the political situation in Congo has since stabilized, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked deemed the blanket exemption from deportation as no longer necessary.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A Jerusalem court backed a decision by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to end exemptions from deportation for all Congolese migrants in Israel.

Starting December 8, the court ruled, migrants from the Congo can now be repatriated from Israel to the central African country.

The development reverses a policy which had been in place for 20 years.

Monday’s decision by the Jerusalem District Court marked the culmination of a legal saga that began with Shaked announcing in April 2022 that a policy granting protection against deportation for Congolese nationals in the Jewish State was no longer relevant.

There are some 400 people from the Congo currently in Israel, some of whom have been in the country for decades. Around half are still waiting for their asylum applications to be denied or granted by the government.

Shaked promised that the Interior Ministry would review each migrant’s status on a case-by-case basis, but activists filed an injunction to block the move, arguing that removing the blanket exemption was a human rights violation.

A local court froze Shaked’s decision in May, but the new ruling has paved the way for the policy to move forward.

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Officials stressed that the new policy will not lead to a large-scale deportation, but rather give the state flexibility to repatriate Congolese who entered the country illegally, overstayed their visas or became involved with crime.

Doron Avrahami, a longtime advocate for the South Tel Aviv community who has raised the alarm about the influx of thousands of illegal migrants into the area, told World Israel News that he welcomed the court’s decision.

“We are the State of Israel, and this is our country,” he said. “We are not the U.S., and we are not Europe. This is the state of the Jewish people.

“Whoever wants to come here as a guest, as a temporary worker, in an organized way, according to the rule of law, sure. But for those who want to illegally infiltrate into the country and stay here illegally, it simply can’t continue like this.”

Avrahami added that he will “celebrate” on the day that blanket deportation exemptions for migrants from Sudan and Eritrea are lifted.

The ban on deportations, which was originally introduced in 2002, ensured that migrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo would not be removed from Israel, regardless of their legal status.

At the time the policy was introduced, Congolese militias were embroiled in clashes with armed groups from neighboring countries Uganda and Rwanda, and repatriation of migrants back to the country was deemed to potentially endanger their lives.

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Because the political situation in Congo has since stabilized, Shaked deemed the blanket exemption from deportation as no longer necessary.