JERUSALEM (JTA) — Most African migrants in Israel are involved in criminal activity and should be imprisoned and deported, Israel’s interior minister said.
Only a small number of the Africans who have infiltrated into Israel are refugees and should be treated as such, Eli Yishai said Wednesday in a widely reported interview with Army Radio. Yishai suggested giving the migrants a repatriation grant before returning them to their countries of origin.
Yishai made his remarks following several violent crimes allegedly committed by African migrants.
On Tuesday, police arrested four migrants from Eritrea and Sudan for raping a woman in Tel Aviv. Another African migrant was arrested earlier this week for raping a high school student at a graduation party.
There are more than 50,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv alone, according to government reports. Most entered through the border with Sinai.
Yishai on several occasions — as recently as Monday — called the refugees an existential threat to Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported.