The mayor of an Israeli city has urged its 250,000 residents to call a hotline if they see an asylum seeker “to remove them from the city”.
Rami Greenberg, the mayor of Petah Tikva, said: “After creating an intelligence infrastructure, the municipality and the Immigration Authority will work together to remove them from the city.”
His comments were made after meeting Yossi Edelstein of the Enforcement and Foreigners unit of the Population and Immigration Authority, which later denied there was any such policy.
Asylum seekers are allowed to live anywhere in Israel, but 480 young Eritrean and Sudanese men recently released from the Holot Detention Facility in the Negev are banned from seven Israeli cities, including Petah Tikva.
Israeli authorities’ handling of asylum-seekers has galvanised Israel’s critics, led to unease within the Diaspora and prompted protests within Israel itself, including one on Wednesday.
Thousands gathered in Tel Aviv to protest against racism towards Jewish Ethiopians from Israeli police, after the killing of Yehuda Biadga, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent who was suffering from mental illness when he was shot and killed by officers.
“New Israel Fund stands with the thousands of Israelis protesting racism and police violence,” said NIF’s UK chief executive Adam Ognall. “All human beings, regardless of colour, race, religion and nationality, were born equal.”
On Biadga’s death, he said: “This it isn’t the first time black, Arab, and Mizrahi communities in Israel have sounded the alarm about racism and discrimination from Israeli police. As we have seen in the US, here and elsewhere, Yehuda’s community finds itself needing to assert that Black lives matter in Israel, too.”
Ziva Mekonen-Dago of the Association for Ethiopian Jews said: “The racist attitude of police towards Ethiopian descendants is a daily reality. It does not make sense that I am afraid when my 17-year-old son leaves the house. It’s not reasonable.”