Several Africanmen stuck for the third day in a culvert on the Egypt-Israel border –IDF is barring their entry.
Yesterday Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-I) received information regarding three or four African men who are stuck in a culvertunder the newly erected fence between Israel and Egypt. According to theinformation, which was confirmed yesterday (August 8th, 2012) by thelegal advisor of the IDF’s southern command, they have been there for the lasttwo days. Israeli soldiers are guarding the place to ensure the men do notenter Israel.
According to anarticle published in Yedioth Aharonot today, the IDF’s official responseto the reporter was: "The IDF acts in collaboration with the Egyptians sothat they will come to collect the infiltrators". This evening (August 9th)the men were still inside the culvert (thus completing a third day).
In an urgentletter sent this evening to the IDF’s legal advisor, attorneys Anat Ben-Dor andAsaf Witzen argue that humanitarian considerations require that the men beallowed into Israel to undergo a medical check as well as an evaluation whetherthey are are asylum seekers in need of protection. The letter expresses concernfor the health of the men after such a long time in the culvert. In addition,Ben-Dor and Witzen argue that Israel may be violating the non-refoulementprinciple. It is yet unclear if the men are on the Israeli side of the borderor on the Egyptian side. In any event, the fact that they are refusing to goback to Egyptian territory/to leave the culvert indicates fear on their part.In such circumstances, the letter argues that IDF soldiers (who are providingwater to the men) should allow them into Israel and Israeli authorities should determinewhether they are in need of international protection.
Recentinformation published by the US State Department and Human Rights Watchindicate that people who are captured while trying to cross the border intoIsrael are detained under harsh conditions, are prevented access to asylum procedures and are forcefully deported to their countries of origin where theymay be subjected to persecution.
MK ZehavaGal-On (Meretz) addressed Ehud Barak, the Ministry of Defence this evening buthave not received a response yet.
For additionalComments please contact:
Sigal Rozen ShaharShoam
The Hotline for Migrant Workers Physiciansfor Human Rights