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Tortured in Sinai, Imprisoned in Israel

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Compared to Western states, Israel accepts the fewest number of temporary or permanent refugees even though being legally and morally bound to help.

Thousands of South Sudanese refugees were deported. While in Israel they were harshly treated. Despite repressive conditions at home, Israel called them illegal. Obligations under the 1951 Convention were spurned.

Sinai torture victims discover Israeli hospitality firsthand. Israel's Law to Prevent Infiltration greets them. Asylum seekers are imprisoned without trial. They're subjected to harsh treatment and deportation.

A nyone helping them or providing shelter faces five to 15 years in prison for being a good samaritan. Avoiding it involves proving they didn't know the refugee lacked residency status and wasn't guilty of alleged criminality.

Netanyahu and likeminded extremists sponsored the measure. Jews alone are wanted. Others needn't apply. Those gaining entry learn firsthand why they're not wanted.

The Infiltration law targets refugees, asylum seekers, and their families. Minimally, they face three years imprisonment. Detentions may be extended indefinitely. Extraordinary humanitarian circumstances alone qualify for early release.

The bill's earlier version mandated life sentences for refugees and asylum seekers convicted of property damage. Offenses as minor as graffiti were criminalized. Persons providing aid faced five to 15 year sentences.

The Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) in Israel called the measure "one of the most dangerous bills ever presented in the Knesset." Despite softening, its new version remains brazenly draconian, undemocratic and shameful. 

ACRI calls it "draconian and immoral, and its entire purpose is to deter refugees from entering Israel. The law blatantly disregards Israel's most basic commitments as a member of the community of nations and as a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees."

"The State of Israel has the right to protect its borders, but not by trampling human rights and ignoring democratic values."

The current measure targets persons entering Israel without permission or caught carrying weapons or drugs. It also applies if convicted of human trafficking. Most of its original provisions remain.

The bill's sole purpose is to deter refugees and asylum seekers from entering Israel for any purpose. In addition, migrant workers can be imprisoned for three years to life for misdemeanor type offenses.

The Knesset's 1950 Law of Return grants all Jews worldwide the right to citizenship and residency. Yet no refugee law exists, despite Israel being a signatory to the UN's 1951 Convention.

Among Western states, Israel is least hospitable to refugees and asylum seekers. At best, some get temporary limited stays. 

Most often, they're summarily denied, including those with legitimate persecution fears. Although legally mandated to help, Israel consistently refuses.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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