The new legislation, approved by a Cabinet committee Sunday, calls for a five-year jail sentence and a whopping half a million shekel ($130,000) fine for anyone employing illegal infiltrators. The bill states that the daily infiltration of the migrants has “become s strategic threat to Israeli society… especially in poorer neighborhoods.”
“It seems the long struggle for the expulsion of infiltrators has begun to give the first fruits,” said Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon.
National Union chairman and Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz has led the fight against the massive immigration, which has raised the number of foreign workers, including those with permits, to several hundred thousand people.
Using his position as Interior Minister, Eli Yishai of Shas has ordered a round-up of the African infitrators, beginning in Eilat, after the Jerusalem District Court last week dismissed a petition from human rights groups demanding a cancellation of the first group of approximately 1,500 deportation orders. Human rights activists have claimed that the infiltrators are “refugees” who should be granted asylum, but evidence has mounted that a vast majority fled Africa to look for a better standard of living and were not in a life-threatening situation in their home countries.
Approximately 25,000 infiltrators are scheduled to be deported, while the government is looking for a another country to accept an equal number whose lives may be threatened if they return home.
“Those who hide will be arrested,” vowed Yishai, who said that those who begin to leave the country voluntarily will not be arrested.
The “national plague,” as Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman has termed it, has been festering for several years but failed to attract serious attention until the past several months, when the growing flood of infiltrators into Tel Aviv promoted vocal and sometimes violent protests.
Documented evidence of streams of Africans crossing the border from Egypt, usually with the help of Bedouin human traffickers, began to set off the danger sirens in the government, which previously ignored complaints of residents of Eilat, Dimona and Arad that their cities were being overwhelmed and endangered.