10 Facts About Israeli Refugees

Israeli Refugees

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 left many of the Palestinians who lived in these lands without homes or basic rights. The current politics of Israel leaves many of these people without access to services and human rights. Israel houses tens of thousands of African asylum seekers, as well as many more Palestinians, both within and outside its borders. Here are 10 facts about Israeli refugees.

10 Facts About Israeli Refugees

  1. Those seeking asylum in Israel do not have any rights or eligibility for social services.
  2. The Israeli government tries to push many refugees out of the country by detaining them, not accepting their asylum claims, not allowing them to participate in social services and through repatriation.
  3. The Supreme Court of Israel does not approve of the government’s treatment of Israeli refugees, specifically those of African descent. In two separate decisions, the Court has asked the Israeli government for policies that will take basic human rights principles into considerations for African refugees. Although the government did not comply, the Court’s demands for more comprehensive legislation concerning refugees is a step in the right direction.
  4. Palestinian refugees who re-enter Israel are considered “infiltrators” for crossing the border under the Prevention of Infiltration Law. The Israeli government has considered them a threat to national security since it passed the law in the 1950s.
  5. As of 2008, the Israeli government also considers African refugees “infiltrators.” The government passed an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law in 2011, officially making the presence of African refugees in Israel unlawful.
  6. African refugees protested in 2014 in order for the Israeli government to recognize their rights. According to the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC), this was the first time that the asylum-seekers had distinct leaders associated with the movement. The height of the movement involved about 20,000 refugees and supporters. The peaceful approach helped to give government officials and the public more empathy for these refugees. The foundations of these protests will hopefully pave the way to legislative and societal changes in favor of refugees.
  7. Palestinian refugees are among the largest refugee populations in the world. According to the Palestinian Return Centre, about one in every three refugees from around the world is Palestinian.
  8. Many Palestinian refugees have remained close to their places of origins in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. More than one and a quarter million Palestinian refugees live in the nearly 60 official refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Others live in unofficial camps.
  9. The Palestinian Return Centre reports that some of the factors keeping Palestinians in camps include political and social struggles, as well as the physical safety of the camps. The refugee camps also stand as a symbol for the temporal situation of a people still asking to return to their homes.
  10. Even after many decades of displacement due to struggles with the Israeli government, Palestinians cannot return to their homes within the state of Israel in most cases. The peace process between Israel and Palestine has been slow, and most of the deliberations have not accounted for refugee rights.

The Israeli government must find a way to ensure the rights of Israeli refugees, whether they are from Palestine, Africa or anywhere else. Considering the current lack of legislative support for Israeli refugees, the refugee protests and pushes from the Supreme Court are a crucial foundation for ensuring the rights of these people.

Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr