Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The Israeli authorities are imposing on Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to choose between prison or exodus in other Countries, and this political choice risks exposing "so many lives to danger and an uncertain future". This was stated by the Heads of Catholic Churches in the Holy Land, in a text published in recent days expressing perplexities regarding the recent provision put in place by the Israeli government.
On 1 January, the Israeli Population and immigration Authority published a policy announcement – highlight the Heads of Catholic Churches of the Holy Land - offering asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea a choice between one of two options: either departure or incarceration. To incentivize departures, those who leave Israel by the end of March 2018 will receive a sum of 3,500 Israeli shekels (less than 850 euros) in addition to airfare. Those who remain in Israel beyond the 60 days will be incarcerated.
All refugees present in Israel and from Sudan and Eritrea - reads the provision of the Israeli authorities -, who come to renew their temporary residence permits, starting Feb 2nd 2018, will be informed that they have 60 days to leave Israel, either to their home country or to one of two African “third countries. The measure does not apply to women, children, parents of dependent children, and victims of slavery/forced labor/sex trade. "While recognizing the need to control the flow of asylum seekers in our Country, as elsewhere" the Catholic Bishops write, "we cannot remain indifferent to the plight of many refugees fleeing from dictatorship, war and other horrible conditions. "The well-being of Israeli society", the Bishops add "cannot be achieved at the expense of so many people rejected together and so many lives exposed to danger and a very uncertain future". In this regard, the Bishops also report a verse from Leviticus: "The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God". "We hope" the Bishops conclude, "that the Administration take into consideration the anguish of asylum seekers present in Israel, and find more humane solutions to offer".
The document of the Heads of the Catholic Churches of the Holy Land is signed, among others, by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and by Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 22/1/2018)