The UN refugee agency warned on Tuesday that Israel’s intended mass deportations of Eritrean asylum seekers could “contravene” international law.
“UNHCR calls for calm and restraint, and on all parties to refrain from taking any steps that could aggravate the situation further,” said a spokesman for the agency, William Spindler.
Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he wanted Eritrean refugees and migrants involved in clashes with the police in Tel Aviv to be deported immediately. He has ordered a plan to be prepared in order to remove all African migrants in Israel.
“We want harsh measures against the rioters, including the immediate deportation of those who took part [in the clashes],” insisted Netanyahu. He asked for ministers to present him with plans “for the removal of all the other illegal infiltrators.”
Israeli police have come under fire for being underprepared to manage the protests of the Africans before they turned violent. Eritrean community leaders had warned in advance that they could become violent.
About 25,000 asylum seekers from Africa live in Israel. They nearly all originate in Eritrea and Sudan.