Israeli court orders delay in Sudanese migrant roundup
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Egyptian soldier nearby the Israeli border fence running along the border in the Negev Desert, north of Kadesh Barnea, Israel, 10 October 2012, where pieces of clothing left by African immigrants lay tangled in the wire. Despite a drastic reduction of African immigrants, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, crossing into Israel from Egypt, due to the border fence, Israel is building a new prison facility at Saharonim, which could house thousands of additional immigrants. EPA photoA Jerusalem court has ordered the Israeli interior ministry to shelve a threatened October 15 roundup of illegal migrants from Sudan, pending a ruling on their requests for asylum.
"I find it right at this stage to issue a temporary injunction according to which, until decided otherwise, citizens of the Republic of Sudan will not be placed in custody," judge Nava Ben-Or wrote in Thursday's ruling, a copy of which was sent to AFP.
She set a fresh court hearing for October 30. Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai had warned in August that Sudanese illegals who did not leave the country by October 15 would be detained.
"Infiltrators from Sudan have until October 15 to leave Israel, after which date they will be placed in detention," Yishai said in a statement, adding that he had Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's approval for the plan.
Israel began expelling South Sudanese in June, after Yishai ruled that they were no longer at risk in their newly-independent homeland but at first made no move against those from its northern neighbour.
The Jewish state, which reportedly backed South Sudan through its 1983-2005 war with Khartoum, recognised the new nation and established full diplomatic relations with its government shortly after it declared independence in July last year.
More than 60,000 Africans are estimated to be living in Israel illegally, most of them in run-down neighbourhoods of south Tel Aviv.
Most are Sudanese and Eritreans who entered the country illegally via Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Rising tensions over the growing number of illegal immigrants exploded into violence in May when a protest in south Tel Aviv turned ugly, with demonstrators smashing African-run shops and property, chanting "Blacks out!" The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, with six Sudanese asylum seekers and other rights groups has petitioned the Jerusalem District Court to block Yishai's August directive.
It said in a statement that its implementation would result in "thousands of Sudanese asylum seekers along with their children being hunted down, arrested en masse, and detained indefinitely," in a massive detention camp Israel has set up in the desert near its border with Egypt.
"Included among these people are survivors of genocide in Darfur and atrocities in other areas," it said.