New developments have occurred since my last post about the treatment of African asylum seekers and illegal migrant workers in Israel. Interior Minister Eli Yishai has announced his intention to impose fines against the mayors of Israeli cities employing migrant workers. Referring to these individuals as “infiltrators,” Yishai’s feelings toward Israel’s migrant labor force have been very clear from the start: “We will also start to enforce this so that they do not employ infiltrators. They will employ Israelis instead, the place of infiltrators is in the countries that they came from.”
In the past, fining city mayors has been reserved for municipal heads guilty of unlawful expenses and financial transgressions such as embezzlement.
Meanwhile, over a 1,000 people have signed a letter demanding a criminal investigation against Members of the Knesset (MK) who participated in anti-migrant protest in Tel Aviv last week. The letter was addressed to those MKs “who stand at the top of the wave of agitation, the speeches and slander will translate into real harm to human life.” Even Prime Minister Netanyahu joined in condemning the actions of demonstrators who turned violent and attacked African migrants in South Tel Aviv.
While in denouncing the attacks the prime minister tried to distance himself from the violence of last week’s protests and the racist members of his own political party, Netanyahu only proved to share the same feelings when he announced that construction of the fence to halt the flow of migrants into Israel would continue.
“We will complete construction of the fence within two months, and soon we will begin sending infiltrators back to their countries of origin.”