Israel's refugee deportation plan draws huge opposition

Pilots, authors and teachers protest against planned deportation of asylum seekers from Israel

Protests have taken place outside parliament in Israel

Friday, January 26, 2018

Many in Israel are protesting against the planned deportation of tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants to Africa.

The fight against the deportation started after the government shut the Holot refugee detention centre in December, according to Al Monitor.

Authorities then decided migrants and asylum seekers should be sent to Uganda or Rwanda with an allowance $3,500 (£2,450) or face a prison sentence.

It is thought up to 40,000 people could be told to leave the country.

The first protest held by those against the move included authors Amos Oz and A B Yehoshua, who have both previously won the Israel Prize - the Jewish state's highest cultural honour.

Earlier this month the pair wrote a letter to the Israeli government which stated "we call on you to act morally, humanely and with compassion worthy of the Jewish people."

It added if the government does not change its mind of deportation, "we will have no reason to exist."

Social group Zazim has called on pilots to refuse to deport refugees and many El Al pilots have said they will do so, which is rare as they normally avoid making political statements.

One pilot said he would not take asylum seekers or refugees to a "destination where their chances of surviving are minuscule."

Psychologists who work with refugees and headteachers have written letters to the government, calling on them to stop the deportation plan.

Some survivors of the Holocaust have also said they would hide refugees at home.