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In Pictures
In pictures: Tel Aviv's African migrants
Fresh uncertainties face thousands seeking a better life, as Israel launches a crackdown with a view to deport them.
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2012 12:38

Tel Aviv, Israel - The Israeli government has in recent weeks started rounding up hundreds of migrants for eventual deportation. A first batch of 127 people from South Sudan (out of some 1,500) were flown home after they had agreed to return in exchange for a free plane ticket and 1,000 euros ($1,250).

But in a hectic political climate, the Binyamin Netanyahu-led coalition government is also tasked with processing some 10,000 other Africans from countries - such as Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria - which would reportedly accept deportees under some form of legal agreements. Some migrants from these countries have already been arrested in the current sweep.

Yet the biggest challenge by far is dealing with the estimated 40,000 people from Eritrea and 10,000 from Sudan (mostly from Darfur) - who cannot under international law be sent home due to the risk of persecution. Those from Sudan could face the long arm of the law for fleeing a war-torn region for Israel, an "enemy state".

And the Eritreans, though their government has relations with Israel, would reportedly face jail time for having evaded military service - despite the fact that most are economic migrants. Some contend that they deserve political asylum for having escaped a repressive regime in Asmara.

The Israeli government is about halfway through construction of a long fence along the Egyptian border to prevent the migrants from entering along what Israeli officials have dubbed "Bedouin smuggling routes". With several thousand reportedly streaming in each month, the government has even suggested the possibility of another fence along the Jordanian border to keep out those who cross the Gulf of Aqaba.

The current plan is to host tens of thousands of migrants in tent cities at several detention facilities, mostly in the desert near Eilat, where many migrants enter the country and where many currently reside. The bulk of African migrants live around South Tel Aviv, in poor areas of the coastal city near the central bus station - neighbourhoods such as Hatikva, Shapira and Yad Eliyahu.

Migrants, referred to as "infiltrators" by much of the country's right-wing press - and many officials - are typically registered with three-month permits which do not legally allow them to work, even though many are involved through a tacit loophole in low-skilled labour - construction, food sector and domestic work.

Political opposition to the migrants has been most vocal from the Israeli right, from figures such as Eli Yishai, Danny Danon and Miri Regev, who notoriously labelled the Africans a "cancer". They have claimed there is an increase in criminal acts such as rape, as well as public health concerns and a demographic risk posed by foreigners who are not of Jewish background. Evidence of such rising criminality or falling levels of public health and a causal link with African migrants is not, however, widely available.

The migrants are mostly impoverished, but many have opened up thriving small businesses that cater largely to members of their home communities - internet cafes, ethnic eateries and hair salons.

While the diverse black African immigrant population is lumped together by political rhetoric, the predominantly Christian and Tigriniya-speaking Eritreans do not always get along with the Arabic-speaking and Muslim Sudanese from Darfur. But Israel is geopolitically aligned with Darfur, since there is common cause against Khartoum.

Alongside rising racial tensions, there are vocal migrant advocacy groups such as the Hotline for Migrant Workers and the African Refugee Development Center.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
African migrants receive food from local charity workers offering social services in South Tel Aviv's Levinsky Park.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
Eritrean workers, one wearing a t-shirt advertising the Birthright Israel programme, look on in Levinsky Park as a mixed group of Israelis and Africans play in a drum circle.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
Having lived for four months with friends in Rishon Letzion, 22-year-old Mubarak from Darfur works in a supermarket. "For work, Arabic is no good," he says. "You need Hebrew."


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
A group of West African men play football on a paved surface inside Levinsky Park adjacent to the central bus station, seen in the background.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
At the Darfur Computer Center, area residents buy electronics and receive other community services.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
Migrants from Eritrea, whose flag is seen in the mirror, use internet stations to connect with family members at home and make phone calls.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
Like many shopkeepers, this electronics merchant says he is wary of thieves. Pointing to the security cameras in his shop, he then asks, "But, then again, in which country do people not steal? The government should either kick them out or give them work permits."


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
John Deng Gir, 39, hails from South Sudan and sells belts and shoes on Neve Sh'anan Street. He says he plans to accept the government's 1000 euro grant and plane ticket home, along with his two Israeli-born young children who live in the southern resort city of Eilat.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
The African migrant issue has come to the fore in Israeli media as the Palestinian peace process is on the back burner, and the topic of Iran has faded from the headlines.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
At a cafe owned by a man from Darfur, groups of Eritreans play cards, smoke shisha and watch professional wrestling.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
Some of the immigrants are assimilating and have Hebrew-speaking children. They often take jobs that Israelis do not want.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
But many Israelis say the volume of African migration has become socially overwhelming, even though most live in areas also populated by other migrants, including Filipinos, Chinese and Nepalese workers.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
As Israelis debate how to resolve a problem that many in the country say has boiled over, the migrant communities eke out a living and maintain cultural ties to their countries of origin through film, music and cuisine.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
Eritrean workers push cases of beer past a synagogue. Many Israeli liberals are sympathetic to the plight of African migrants, but the nationalist right has stoked the flames of social controversy and warned of negative long-term implications for Zionist national identity.


Ben Piven/Al Jazeera
Tel Aviv residents walk past a poster for a campaign with a slogan that reads "Refugee, Not Infiltrator" and features the faces and stories of African migrants who are slated to be placed in detention centres in Israel's southern Negev Desert.



images:
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captions:
African migrants receive food from local charity workers offering social services in South Tel Aviv(***)s Levinsky Park.;*;Eritrean workers, one wearing a t-shirt advertising the Birthright Israel programme, look on in Levinsky Park as a mixed group of Israelis and Africans play in a drum circle.;*;Having lived for four months with friends in Rishon Letzion, 22-year-old Mubarak from Darfur works in a supermarket. "For work, Arabic is no good," he says. "You need Hebrew.";*;A group of West African men play football on a paved surface inside Levinsky Park adjacent to the central bus station, seen in the background. ;*;At the Darfur Computer Center, area residents buy electronics and receive other community services. ;*;Migrants from Eritrea, whose flag is seen in the mirror, use internet stations to connect with family members at home and make phone calls.;*;Like many shopkeepers, this electronics merchant says he is wary of thieves. Pointing to the security cameras in his shop, he then asks, "But, then again, in which country do people not steal? The government should either kick them out or give them work permits.";*;John Deng Gir, 39, hails from South Sudan and sells belts and shoes on Neve Sh(***)anan Street. He says he plans to accept the government(***)s 1000 euro grant and plane ticket home, along with his two Israeli-born young children who live in the southern resort city of Eilat.;*;The African migrant issue has come to the fore in Israeli media as the Palestinian peace process is on the back burner, and the topic of Iran has faded from the headlines. ;*;At a cafe owned by a man from Darfur, groups of Eritreans play cards, smoke shisha and watch professional wrestling.;*;Some of the immigrants are assimilating and have Hebrew-speaking children. They often take jobs that Israelis do not want. ;*;But many Israelis say the volume of African migration has become socially overwhelming, even though most live in areas also populated by other migrants, including Filipinos, Chinese and Nepalese workers.;*;As Israelis debate how to resolve a problem that many in the country say has boiled over, the migrant communities eke out a living and maintain cultural ties to their countries of origin through film, music and cuisine. ;*;Eritrean workers push cases of beer past a synagogue. Many Israeli liberals are sympathetic to the plight of African migrants, but the nationalist right has stoked the flames of social controversy and warned of negative long-term implications for Zionist national identity.;*;Tel Aviv residents walk past a poster for a campaign with a slogan that reads "Refugee, Not Infiltrator" and features the faces and stories of African migrants who are slated to be placed in detention centres in Israel\(***)s southern Negev Desert. Daylife ID:
1339927935189
Photographer:
Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven;*;Ben Piven
Image Source:
Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera ;*;Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Tel Aviv's African Migrantshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrantsen-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:12:16 GMTMon, 18 Jun 2012 00:26:53 GMT http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0cHtfFc6JGfofAfrican migrants, many of whom prefer to be identified as refugees or asylum seekers, receive food from local charity workers who offer social services in South Tel Aviv's Levinsky Park.Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:14:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0cHtfFc6JGfofBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload ImagesAfrican migrants, many of whom prefer to be identified as refugees or asylum seekers, receive food from local charity workers who offer social services in South Tel Aviv's Levinsky Park. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=013w4w1erA7tR

Eritrean migrants, one wearing a t-shirt advertising the Birthright Israel programme, look on in Levinsky Park as a mixed group of Israelis and Africans play in a drum circle.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:15:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=013w4w1erA7tRBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Eritrean migrants, one wearing a t-shirt advertising the Birthright Israel programme, look on in Levinsky Park as a mixed group of Israelis and Africans play in a drum circle.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0761fAAgcu2sY

Having lived for four months with friends in Rishon Letzion, 22-year-old Mubarak from Darfur works in a supermarket. "For work, Arabic is no good," he says. "You need Hebrew."

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:15:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0761fAAgcu2sYBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Having lived for four months with friends in Rishon Letzion, 22-year-old Mubarak from Darfur works in a supermarket. "For work, Arabic is no good," he says. "You need Hebrew."

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=007M7748WSdzP

A group of West African men play football on a paved surface inside Levinsky Park adjacent to the central bus station, seen in the background.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:17:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=007M7748WSdzPBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

A group of West African men play football on a paved surface inside Levinsky Park adjacent to the central bus station, seen in the background.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0frZbM3ap13pL

At the Darfur Computer Center, area residents buy electronics and receive other community services.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:15:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0frZbM3ap13pLBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

At the Darfur Computer Center, area residents buy electronics and receive other community services.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=02a19A167X7ty

Migrants from Eritrea, whose flag is seen in the mirror, use internet stations to connect with family members at home and make phone calls.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:15:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=02a19A167X7tyBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Migrants from Eritrea, whose flag is seen in the mirror, use internet stations to connect with family members at home and make phone calls.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=08EU1A2ciP3Cz

Like many shopkeepers in South Tel Aviv, this electronics merchant says he is wary of thieves, but that's there's no racial element involved. Pointing to the security cameras in his shop, he then asks, "But, then again, in which country do people not steal? The government should either kick them or give them work permits."

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:16:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=08EU1A2ciP3CzBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Like many shopkeepers in South Tel Aviv, this electronics merchant says he is wary of thieves, but that's there's no racial element involved. Pointing to the security cameras in his shop, he then asks, "But, then again, in which country do people not steal? The government should either kick them or give them work permits."

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0h2r3cn4B20cC

John Deng Gir, 39, hails from South Sudan and sells belts and shoes on Neve Sh'anan Street. He says he plans to accept the government's 1000 euro grant and plane ticket home, along with his two Israel-born young children who live in the southern resort city of Eilat.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:16:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0h2r3cn4B20cCBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

John Deng Gir, 39, hails from South Sudan and sells belts and shoes on Neve Sh'anan Street. He says he plans to accept the government's 1000 euro grant and plane ticket home, along with his two Israel-born young children who live in the southern resort city of Eilat.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=04Ve9jyd2zccQ

The African migrant issue has come to the fore in Israeli media as the Palestinian dilemma remains on the back burner, and the Iranian question has faded somewhat from the Israeli headlines.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:17:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=04Ve9jyd2zccQBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

The African migrant issue has come to the fore in Israeli media as the Palestinian dilemma remains on the back burner, and the Iranian question has faded somewhat from the Israeli headlines.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=07Dj4ZP6wQeHE

At a well-maintained cafe owned by a man from Darfur, groups of Eritreans play cards, smoke shisha and watch professional wrestling.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:17:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=07Dj4ZP6wQeHEBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

At a well-maintained cafe owned by a man from Darfur, groups of Eritreans play cards, smoke shisha and watch professional wrestling.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=01c8fmo9J7071

Some of the immigrants are assimilating and have Hebrew-speaking children. They take jobs that Israelis generally do not want.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=01c8fmo9J7071Ben PivenAl Jazeera

Some of the immigrants are assimilating and have Hebrew-speaking children. They take jobs that Israelis generally do not want.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=09m79jP7mqfaJ

But the huge volume of poor African migration has become socially overwhelming, even though most live in areas also populated by other migrant populations, including Filipinos, Chinese, Thais and Nepalese. The migrants from Asia are mostly legal and have not arrived in the same numbers as African migrants.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:17:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=09m79jP7mqfaJBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

But the huge volume of poor African migration has become socially overwhelming, even though most live in areas also populated by other migrant populations, including Filipinos, Chinese, Thais and Nepalese. The migrants from Asia are mostly legal and have not arrived in the same numbers as African migrants.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=089GeKGeA5gr7

As Israelis debate how to resolve a problem that has boiled over, the migrant communities eke out a living and maintain cultural ties to their countries of origin through film, music and cuisine.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:18:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=089GeKGeA5gr7Ben PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

As Israelis debate how to resolve a problem that has boiled over, the migrant communities eke out a living and maintain cultural ties to their countries of origin through film, music and cuisine.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0cdZ7bN6RJ9sZ

Eritrean workers push cases of beer past a synagogue. Many Israeli liberals are sympathetic to the plight of African migrants, but the nationalistic right has stoked the flames of social controversy and warned of negative long-term implications for Zionist national identity.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:18:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=0cdZ7bN6RJ9sZBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Eritrean workers push cases of beer past a synagogue. Many Israeli liberals are sympathetic to the plight of African migrants, but the nationalistic right has stoked the flames of social controversy and warned of negative long-term implications for Zionist national identity.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=093r6MJeYdbgk

Tel Aviv residents walk past a poster for a campaign with a slogan that reads "Refugee, Not Infiltrator" and features the faces and stories of African migrants who are slated to be placed in detention centres in Israel's southern Negev Desert.

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 10:14:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Tel-Aviv-African-Migrants?image_id=093r6MJeYdbgkBen PivenAl Jazeera Al Jazeera Upload Images

Tel Aviv residents walk past a poster for a campaign with a slogan that reads "Refugee, Not Infiltrator" and features the faces and stories of African migrants who are slated to be placed in detention centres in Israel's southern Negev Desert.



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