Thousands of African migrants march in Israel demanding rights
Tens of thousands of African asylum seekers hold a demonstration in Tel Aviv on January 5, 2014. [AFP]
According to police in Tel Aviv, more than 30,000 asylum seekers attended the demonstration on Sunday to condemn Israel’s long-term detention of undocumented immigrants.
The rally is the latest step in a movement by African refugees who protest against Israel’s implementation of a law, which allows the regime to jail asylum seekers for a long time without any charges or deport them to their countries.
Israel is pursuing this policy despite being a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Treaty, which protects the African refugees from deportation to countries in which their lives are in danger.
Similar demonstrations were also held against the policy on Saturday.
The demonstrators called for the release of all imprisoned refugees and for the recognition of their rights.
In mid-December last year, Tel Aviv began operating a new detention facility for the African refugees in the Negev desert.
Human Right Watch has said that “Israel should end its unlawful detention policy and release all asylum seekers.”
Meanwhile, a recent report says Israel has the lowest living standards among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In its economic survey for 2013, the organization said in December last year that Israel’s “average living standards remain well below the top-ranking OECD countries,” adding, “The rate of relative poverty [in Israel] is the highest in the OECD area....”
The report warned against severe deterioration of living conditions in Israel, saying, “The incomes of about one in five Israeli households fall below the poverty line.”
Many Israelis have been migrating in recent months to Germany and the United States. It is said that the Israelis are leaving Israel on economic grounds.
High taxes and low salaries have had adverse effects on the lives of Israelis, specifically the middle class, in recent years.