Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) human rights violations against asylum seekers on the Israeli-Egyptian border
Sigal Rozen from Hotline for Migrant Workers compiled the following short pieces highlighting Israeli response to asylum seekers along its border with Egypt. Israel has repeatedly flouted it obligations under international refugee law, and continues to show no signs of appreciating refugee rights and legal protections. For ‘infiltrator’, read Asylum Seeker.
Another Israeli soldier called Advancing the Dignity of Refugees in Israel (ARDC) from the border today. He reported that about eleven asylum seekers had been trapped on the wrong side of the fence since Friday (7 September), among which were three women, one of them pregnant.
Two recent reports by the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonot highlighted the human rights violations occurring on the Israeli-Egyptian border. These violations include preventing refugees from entering the country, providing the refugees trapped between the border fences with only a little water and bread, the use of tear gas to chase asylum seekers away from the border, and the renewed practice of ‘hot returns’. The Hotline for Migrant Workers provides a translation of one report and a relevant passage from another report.
Soldiers on the border: ‘We make the infiltrators think it’s all going to be okay’
Telem Yahav, September 7, 2012
It’s not easy to be an IDF soldier on the border with Egypt these days. Since the procedure forbidding the entry of asylum seekers into Israel was put into force, the soldiers are charged with watching the asylum seekers on the border, and that affects them significantly.
‘It’s a weird feeling,’ said one soldier who had recently served on the border, ‘some of us feel like we’re not ready for the next terror attack that may come. There have been terror attacks in the area. What will happen next time? Soldiers will be watching over the Sudanese while the terrorists enter the country? We feel like we’re abandoning the command instead of guarding against the entry of terrorists.’
The soldiers who’ve been stationed in the area said they feel uncomfortable with the instructions [they were given] to provide the infiltrators with only bread and a little water. ‘The guys in the field still give a little more than what we’re allowed to. When we can, we also give them packaged meals,’ said one soldier. ‘This is not a good feeling. It’s very emotionally hard for people, and there have been cases when things got heated and they have been pushed back to Egypt and we didn’t know what was happening with them. We try to make them think that it’s all okay, so that they are as calm as possible and don’t try to run off.’
Another soldier who is serving in the area said that he and his friends treat the infiltrators as a security problem. ‘It’s true that sometimes it’s not easy to see people with cuts, skinny like skeletons, but they may risk the security of the state, and what we’re doing is very important in our view.’
Infiltrators on the border were chased away with tear gas
Telem Yahav and Mati Siber, September 6 2012
Only a few weeks ago, a group of infiltrators stayed at a culvert until the IDF soldiers decided to let them into Israel. But it doesn’t always end this way. Sometimes the IDF takes a much tougher stance: about two weeks ago a group of approximately 20 infiltrators from Sudan and Eritrea arrived on the border. They remained between the border fences for six days, and the soldiers watched over them and awaited the [arrival] of the Egyptian security services, who were expected to pick up the infiltrators. ‘They waited and waited, and no one was willing to take responsibility for them’, a soldier who serves on the border said. ‘We kept them on the fence inside them Egyptian territory and did not let them pass. They waited here for days and days in the sun.’
After an order was given to not provide the infiltrators with food, IDF soldiers chased them away from the border using riot dispersal means, which included tear gas, grenades and stun grenades. The members of the group fled and, absurdly, managed to infiltrate Israel from a different point. After they crossed the border, the IDF took them into custody. Theey are presently being kept at the Saharonim facility, run by the Israeli Prison Services.