Three Eritrean asylum seekers who left Israel last summer were among a group of people recently killed by activists of the Islamic State in Libya, an Israeli NGO said Tuesday.
IS released a video Sunday showing jihadi terrorists shooting and beheading what were initially believed to be Ethiopian Christians. The 29-minute video describes the captives with text captions as “followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church.”
The video, released via militant social media accounts and websites, could not be independently verified, but it corresponded to other videos released by the Islamic State group and bore the symbol of its al-Furqan media arm.
But Israel’s Hotline for Refugees and Migrants claimed in a statement that three of the victims were in fact Eritrean nationals who were made to leave Israel in 2014.
Israel offers illegal immigrants the option to travel to a country other than their country of origin. The names of the countries absorbing migrants deported from Israel have not been announced by the government.
Earlier this year Interior Minister Gilad Erdan said refugees who choose to travel to such “third countries” would be safe. “They will receive fair treatment in [the designated] countries set to absorb them,” he said.
The three men in question, however, were for some reason unable to attain legal status in another country.
“[The victims] traveled to Libya since they did not receive any protection in those countries,” the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants said.
There, they were abducted along with a group of Christian Ethiopians.
At least one of the men, who was identified only as “T,” had previously been detained in the Holot detention facility, a relatively open prison for illegal immigrants, according to the refugee assistance organization.
Holot is currently home to some 2,500 African asylum seekers. Inmates are required to check in every morning and evening, but are free to leave during the day.
The Israeli Immigration Policy Center, a group that has strongly supported measures to deport illegal immigrants, recognized the tragedy of the Islamic State killings, but denied Israeli culpability.
Many Africans want to make it to Europe or Canada, Yonatan Jakubowicz, a spokesman for the group, told The Times of Israel. “In some cases, illegal migrants who have left Israel to their homelands or to safe third countries choose to take the same route, with all the dangers entailed.”
Jakubowicz argued that Israel must ensure that “anyone who leaves to a third country does not face any risk of harm or danger in those destinations.”
But, he added, “Israel cannot and should not be expected to ensure that these people do not take the route to Europe, like hundreds of thousands of other migrants.”
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.