The municipality of Netivot has set up separate shelters for foreign workers in preparation for the possibility of war with Iran. Earlier this week Mayor Yehiel Zohar presented the initiative to the new minister for home front defense, Avi Dichter, who approved it, Ynet reported Wednesday.
The plan includes conversion of abandoned facilities into shelters that can house hundreds of people in times of emergency.
Zohar denied insinuations the plan creates a barrier between Israelis and migrants, saying, “I’m extremely wary of any talk of separation. It’s not about that but about protecting those people. It’s not like everyone in my municipality has shelter.”
There are currently approximately 35,000 migrants from Eritrea living in Israel, and 15,000 from Sudan. Over the past months, tensions have been running particularly high between Israelis and illegal African migrants, resulting in large demonstrations and occasionally degenerating into violence, primarily in the Hatikvah neighborhood in south Tel Aviv.
Legally, Israel cannot deport migrants from Sudan and Eritrea, as it has diplomatic relations with neither.