Interior minister: Could Eritrea be any worse than Sderot?

Eli Yishai makes an argument for the immediate detention of African migrants

Eli Yishai (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)
Eli Yishai (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

Although Eritrea is governed by a dictator and its citizens face a daily struggle to find food, Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Israel Radio on Wednesday that he questions whether the African nation is really more dangerous that Sderot.

Dealing with African migrants immediately is critical to the future of the Jewish state, Yishai said.

“The situation in south Tel Aviv is a catastrophe, and Eilat has already been occupied,”  the Interior Minister explained.

The interior minister said he doesn’t understand why Israel is providing wholesale refuge for Eritrean asylum seekers: “Why don’t we bring tens of millions of those living at risk and in bad conditions to Israel? Why don’t we protect them all?” he asked rhetorically.

As for his decision to detain migrants who arrive illegally in Israel for extended periods, Yishai estimated that the detainment camps will be full in a matter of weeks. He added that when construction of the Egyptian border fence and additional detainment facilities are completed, the infiltrators will no longer be allowed to work in Israel and their motivation to enter will decrease considerably.

Yishai has faced much criticism in recent weeks for statements he’s made against the African migrant population. In early May, Yishai said that he believed that African asylum seekers in Israel should be imprisoned and deported and last week told Maariv that “Many women in Tel Aviv have been raped by the foreigners, but they are afraid to complain in case they are tagged with the stigma of carrying AIDS.”

Israel has been searching for ways to deal with the growing number of African migrants entering its territory. It is estimated that there are roughly 70,000 African migrants currently in the country, most of them from Eritrea and Sudan.

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