Letter to the Editor

Israel’s poor treatment of refugees

Aaron Sagui, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, calls “untrue” reports that Israel has “refused to distinguish between illegal immigrants and asylum seekers” [letters, Nov. 11]. But research by Human Rights Watch and Israeli rights groups has shown that, on seven occasions since June, Israeli forces summarily rejected scores of people at the new border fence with Egypt, at times using stun grenades and tear gas.

Most of those rejected were Eritreans who were fleeing repression in their country and who suffer abuse while crossing Sudan and Egypt. In cases where people managed to cross into Israel, soldiers have used violence to force them back to Egypt. In none of these cases were the asylum seekers properly screened.

Moreover, Israel subjects all irregular border-crossers whom it allows to enter, including asylum-seekers and their children, to arbitrary, long-term detention. All of this violates human rights law.

Gerry Simpson, Geneva

The writer is senior refugees researcher and advocate for Human Rights Watch.

 
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