Opposition is growing in Israel to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to force 38,000 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees to leave the country. Pilots, flight crews, rabbis, doctors, professors and Holocaust survivors have spoken out against the moves.
Claiming they are “illegal aliens” and criminals, Netanyahu pushed a law through the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in December giving the African refugees the choice of imprisonment or deportation, likely to Rwanda or Uganda. Those who agree to go now would get $3,500.
More than 1,000 refugees were joined by Israeli supporters to protest in front of the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya Jan. 22, above.
“The protests let the Israeli population know more about the issue,” Noureldin Musa, a Darfur refugee who works as a cook, told the Militant by phone from Herzliya Jan. 26. “If I am sent to Rwanda they will send me back to Sudan to die.”
Three El Al airline pilots who say they will refuse to fly planes that are used to deport refugees have been widely covered in Israel. “I have joined many of my best friends by declaring that I will not fly refugees to their deaths,” wrote El Al pilot Ido Elad. Nearly 150 flight crew members took out a front-page ad in Haaretz Jan. 24 to support them.
The El Al workers have contacted pilots at Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian and Ethiopian Airlines asking them to do the same.
“Do the Jewish thing,” said 36 Holocaust survivors in a letter to Netanyahu, “and allow asylum seekers to live.”