Eritrean Asylum Seekers Face “Instability and Uncertainty” in Israel

By Brian Zumhagen

HIAS Israel Country Director Sivan Carmel (R) during an appearance on CNN’s “One World with Zain Asher” on September 5, 2023

Following weekend clashes between police and some Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel that erupted outside an event at the Eritrean embassy in Tel Aviv, HIAS Israel Country Director Sivan Carmel appeared on CNN to provide context for the events and discuss their implications for Eritrean asylum seekers. “[They] have been living under instability and uncertainty for a long time,” she said.

When Israeli authorities first indicated that they would allow the embassy to move forward with a public event in support of the regime, leaders of the Eritrean community “went to the police and said we fear what’s going to happen,” Carmel said on CNN’s One World with Zain Asher. “We’ve seen other places in the world where these events turned violent, and they asked for the event to be canceled. But these voices unfortunately were not heeded, and … unfortunately it ended up with 170 people injured, including police officers.”

Since Saturday’s clashes, some politicians have called for asylum seekers allegedly involved in the violence to be deported. Carmel noted that the “asylum seekers are under temporary protection as they are in other places in the world, so deporting them is not realistic, nor would it be legal.”

“But I think it’s important to mention that deportation is not the only threat,” she added. “We’re hearing voices also in the government calling to enact a bill, an immigration bill that would even limit the rights that they have further. Over the years there have been different measures to… pressure asylum seekers to leave, including long detention periods.”

Now, Carmel said, some government officials are using the weekend’s events to resurrect such proposals. “So we’re very worried about that.”

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