Three Eritrean Asylum Seekers who Left Israel were Among Beheaded by ISIS

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NGO: African migrants deported from Israel among Christians killed in latest ISIS video

www.jpost.com | April 21, 2015

Three Eritreans asylum seekers who left Israel for a third country in the past year were among a group of Ethiopian Christians beheaded by ISIS in a video distributed by the terror group this week, an Israeli NGO said Tuesday.

ISIS Libya

According to the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, one of the three men was identified by an Eritrean woman who works as a translator for the NGO and is a relative of the man, as well as by people who were jailed with him at the Holot detention facility in the south. Two other captives in the video were identified by people in Holot and the NGO, but not by family, the NGO added.

A detainee at Holot told the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the man was in Holot over the summer, where he was jailed after spending 7 years in Israel without asylum seeker status. He said that the man was then moved to Saharonim prison after he visited Tel Aviv one day from Holot and did not return by that night's head count. It was from there that the man agreed to leave Israel for a third country, which the detainee at Holot said was Uganda.

According to the Hotline, the migrants did not get asylum seeker status in the third country and made their way north to Libya to try to reach Europe, after which they ended up in the hands of ISIS.

The detainee said that the man in the video did not have a wife or children in Israel and that he was also identified by family members and people who knew him back in Eritrea.

Sabine Hadad, a spokesperson for the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority said Tuesday that they were not familiar with the story and could not confirm it, but were checking the report.

In late March the Interior Ministry announced that they would begin ramping up efforts to get African migrants to agree to voluntarily leave Israel for two unnamed third-party countries in Africa. PIBA said in March that migrants selected for voluntary deportation will be given 30 days to get ready to leave Israel, and those who refuse will face a hearing on whether to imprison them.

The issue of voluntary deportation in Israel is controversial in that those who agree to return are often in prison or face the possibility of indefinite detention if they refuse deportation. For the past few years Israel has maintained a policy of encouraging deportation, through the threat of detention but also “positive incentives” like a one-time stipend. PIBA figures from late March stated that since the beginning of 2014 around 1,500 migrants have agreed to be deported to a third party country in Africa and around 7,000 agreed to be returned to their home country.

PIBA said Tuesday that Israel has reached agreements with two African countries willing to absorb the migrants which have also agreed not to deport them to their home countries.

Critics of the plan have said that those who agree to return are not given status by the third party countries and often are forced to leave those countries as well, or are returned to their home countries, where they could face persecution.

When the plan was announced in late March, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said “this process will encourage infiltrators to leave the territory of Israel in a safe and respectful way, and will be an effective tool to carry out our obligations to help residents of Israel and south Tel Aviv restore the way of life they were used to.”

Tuesday’s news comes a day after Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz sparked controversy for writing on Facebook that the drowning deaths of hundreds of African migrants in a boat that capsized en route to Europe from Libya was tragic but that also validates Israel’s migrants policies. He said the tragedy shows how prudent it was for Israel to build a fence along the border with Egypt to stop the influx of migrants from Egypt and that now that the elections are over, the Likud should get some credit for building the fence. 

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