From The New York Times
TEL AVIV — One by one, immigration
inspectors escorted the migrants out of a dilapidated building into an alley teeming with African-run stores and hair salons. Then, they were led onto a waiting bus, in the first steps on the way to deportation to their native South Sudan.
Many residents here in the Neve Shaanan area of south Tel Aviv complain of rampant crime by migrants and say that it has become “Soweto,” a reference to the site of a 1976 uprising in South Africa. At a recent protest fanned by right-wing politicians, one lawmaker described the Africans, known here as “infiltrators,” as “a cancer in our body.” Later, Africans’ stores and apartments were attacked.
But the government clampdown is also ripping at Israel
’s soul. For some, the connotations of roundups and the prospect of mass detentions cut too close to the bone.
“I feel I am in a movie in Germany, circa 1933 or 1936,” said Orly Feldheim, 46, a daughter of Holocaust survivors, as she doled out food last week to a long line of immigrants in the neighborhood’s Levinsky Park.
Since 2005, about 60,000 sub-Saharan Africans have surreptitiously crossed the porous border from Egypt into Israel after traversing the rugged desert of the Sinai Peninsula.
The rising tensions caused by their presence have prompted the government to announce a tough new policy to stem the influx of African immigrants and asylum seekers. The interior minister, Eli Yishai, has vowed to clear the country of all illegal immigrants within three years.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contends that most of them are economic immigrants
and that they threaten the Jewish character of Israel. On Sunday, he said that all new arrivals would immediately be placed in detention.