[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:
Why would Israeli NGOs object to Israel finding a way to prevent foreigners
in Egypt from reaching Israel?
Take your pick:
#1. Out of genuine humanitarian concerns and open hearts they believe that
Israel should be flooded with foreigners seeking a better life - regardless
of the impact on the country.
#2. They are essentially clients of the NGOs. The more foreigners in
Israel the bigger they hope their budgets will be.
#3. These foreigners will ultimately get the right to vote. Finally an
answer to the million immigrants from the Former Soviet Union who tend to
vote for right wing parties.]
'IDF entering Egypt to stop entry of asylum seekers'
By BEN HARTMAN The Jerusalem Post 08/11/2012 01:06
NGOs claim IDF soldiers entering Egypt, detaining individuals en route
to Israel to seek asylum and handing them to Egyptians.
Israel Defense Forces soldiers are entering Egyptian territory in order
to detain asylum seekers and turn them over to Egyptian authorities
before they enter Israel, according to a report released on Friday.
In a press release sent out on Friday, Israeli NGOs including Amnesty
International Israel, the Hotline for Migrant Workers, Assaf, Physicians
for Human Rights, the Hotline for Migrant Workers, and the Association
for Civil Rights in Israel say they have received reports from an
Israeli reserve soldier as well as asylum seekers in Israel that say
that IDF soldiers "are entering Egypt, detaining individuals as they
make their way to seek asylum in Israel, and then handing them over to
the Egyptian security forces.”
The statement included an affidavit presented by Attorney Anat Ben-Dor,
in which the IDF reservist said that in June 2012 he was taken to a
briefing given by reservist soldiers who served at the border site
before him, who told him of a new procedure to stop “infiltrators” by
stationing soldiers hundreds of meters inside Egypt in order to stop
them before they arrive at the border.
The reservist said that his predecessors told them that in order to
prevent “infiltrators” from escaping, they would “give them the illusion
that they have arrived to the territory of Israel by not using
aggressive behavior, displays of tension, or threats with our weapons.
They suggested that we receive those that come with the blessing
"Welcome to Israel," to act friendly, to ask the purpose for their
arrival, to offer food and water and to promise them that a bus will
arrive soon to take them.”
The reservist said that the soldiers told him that the new procedures
are being carried out in coordination with brigade level commanders, and
that they had received praise from civil authorities about the
procedure’s success in cutting down the number of illegal migrants in
He then relates an incident that happened a few days later, when he and
his fellow reservists caught three migrants, a few dozen meters inside
Egypt, and marched them a few kilometers to a spot where IDF officers
handed them over to Egyptian police.
He also describes arresting a group of 40 people, including 10 women,
some girls and an infant, in a valley inside Egypt, where they guarded
the group for eight hours, before being replaced by brigade level
commanders. The soldier said something went wrong in the liaison with
the Egyptians and the group dispersed at night, with most of them making
their way into Israel. In the press release sent out on Friday, the NGOs
said they are in touch with members of that group who made it into
Israel, how told them that those in their group who were returned are
today being held in a police station in northern Sinai.
A later incident described by the reservist included a group of 40
Sudanese men, the reservist states, all of whom were returned by force
to Egyptian police.
The NGOs said they fear these reports may indicate a new form of ‘Hot
Returns’, in which the IDF return illegal migrants to Egypt shortly
after they are caught in Israel. The NGOs say if this is the case it
would constitute a violation of the international obligations which ban
returning people to countries where they could face persecution.
The NGOs said they raised the issue with the IDF in July, and were told
by Legal Advisor to the Southern Command, Sagiv Leichtman, that the IDF
did not resume the ‘Hot Return’ procedure. The NGOs said that Leichtman
“stressed that this activity does not violate Israel's obligations under
international law or according to the Supreme Court's ruling since it is
targeting people who are not in Israeli territory with the purpose of
preventing them from entering and violating Israel's sovereignty.”
The press release also asks whether or not such alleged actions by the
IDF were responsible for the fact that only 248 illegal migrants entered
Israel in July, a fraction of the number that arrived in the previous
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit would not confirm if IDF soldiers are
operating within Egypt, but said Friday that "the IDF is deployed along
the areas of the border where the fence has been completed, in order to
stop hostile terror attacks, as well as illegal smuggling and
infiltration. In recent weeks, IDF forces have on a number of occasions
had to stop the entry of infiltrators caught trying to illegally enter
Israel, until Egyptian forces were able to come and take them."
The statement did not say if IDF soldiers were on Egyptian territory
when these incidents took place.
Also on Friday, it was reported that IDF soldiers had spent the past few
days guarding a group of Eritrean migrants stuck in a culvert under the
Egyptian-Israel border, and preventing them from entering Israel.
The IDF said Friday that "in light of the foreigners' condition,
humanitarian concerns, and the unique aspects of the situation, the
decision was taken to make an exception and bring them onto the Israeli
side of the fence."