As illegal migration into Israel through its southern border escalated, a dramatic rise was noted in the number of violent crimes in south Tel Aviv and other cities where the migrants settled. Assaults, robberies and cases of rape became more frequent in the areas where this population, in which a large component of the demographic is young men, settled down. These migrants have no permanent residential address or a steady job, and no commitment to Israeli law or Israel’s social fabric. Enforcement agencies often find it difficult to preserve the sense of security of Israel’s residents or to enforce the law. Punitive measures such as conditional arrest, community service or even releasing criminals on parole, a move intended to deter them, were found to have a very limited effect on the illegal aliens, who often give the authorities fake addresses and disappear without showing up for continued discussions on their matter.
The situation became so bad that nearly every case of rape committed by an illegal alien was a recidivist attack, sometimes by criminals apprehended and released multiple times. For example, in September 2012 it was published that an 83-year-old woman was violently raped outside her house by an illegal migrant who was arrested in the past. In July 2013 a disabled Israeli woman was raped in her home by a migrant from Sudan, in January 2017 it was published that an Eritrean migrant raped a mentally disabled woman for three consecutive days, in March 2017 an Eritrean migrant beat up an 80-year-old woman and tried to rape her, in March 2018 it was published that an indictment was served against an Eritrean migrant and four other illegal migrants for kidnapping and group rape of a young woman in Rishon Lezion. These are only a small number of the cases.
Nevertheless, organizations acting to help the migrants did everything in order to obscure the scope of the phenomenon. An attempt to deny the phenomenon reached a climax when the Knesset’s Research and Information Center published an unsubstantiated study with no grounding in reality, determining that “the rate of migrants involved in criminality is lower than their rate as a percentage of the population,” a study that the Israel Immigration Policy Center has debunked completely. Studies like this have created a significant delay in investing resources to reduce criminality and the harm to the personal security of Israel’s citizens.
When the state finally recognized the scope of the issue, the Population Authority began a “Procedure to handle migrants involved in criminality”, determining that an illegal alien involved in criminal behavior will be put in custody in an administrative process as determined by the Anti-Infiltration Law. In spite of the acute need of the procedure, several appeals to cancel it were filed. We at the IIPC have filed a request to join the appeal as respondents in the name of the residents of South Tel Aviv. We have also added member of Knesset Elazar Stern to the request, after he was assaulted during a tour of South Tel Aviv.
On the opposite side, in a rare and unheard of move, the public defender’s office joined the appellants who called to cancel the procedure. On the day of the discussion we arrived at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem with representatives of the residents of South Tel Aviv. The residents participated in the discussion and also protested outside the court. Our request to join the respondents and the protest by the residents were widely covered by the media.
In spite of the efforts to defend the procedure, it was indirectly canceled by the court, after the High Court of Justice canceled clauses from the third amendment of the Anti-Infiltration Law that enabled to put an illegal alien in custody. This was done in a separate discussion, thus rendering the current discussion redundant. Following the verdict on the Anti-Infiltration Law, the attorney-general froze the procedure at the end of September 2013. In response to this decision, we published an assessment according to which the procedure can still be imposed upon migrants by force of another law, Law of Entry into Israel. According to this law, an illegal alien who constitutes a risk to the public can be placed in custody. We presented this opinion in the Knesset caucus to return illegal migrants, where we took part in the discussions.
In addition, the Israeli Immigration Policy Center and representatives of the residents of South Tel Aviv met with attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein and the staff of his office, and also held a protest outside his home, in order to ensure that the renewed procedure to handle illegal aliens involved in criminal activity will be approved as part of the Law of Entry into Israel.