Israeli city preventing kids of Eritrean asylum seekers from enrolling in school


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Petach Tikvah has prevented dozens of families of Eritrean asylum seekers from enrolling their children in school, according to a lawsuit filed against the central Israeli city.

The suit filed Tuesday cites among other bureaucratic pretenses that parents, who are in Israel legally on special visas, were refused to present proof of residence documents during the January enrollment, Haaretz reported.

Some 129 children are affected. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of them and the Assaf Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel.

The compulsory education law applies to all children living in Israel, regardless of their legal residency status, according to the Education Ministry.

The municipality first told parents it would be better to register the children closer to the beginning of the school year, but has continued to prevent their registration despite ongoing complaints to the city and the Education Ministry. A letter sent to Education Minister Rafi Peretz in June remained unanswered, and the Education Ministry has not provided updates.

Preschoolers who are unable to be registered in Petach Tikvah are assigned to special preschools for children of African origin.

“Even though the preschools are called by impeccable Israeli names, they are characterized by inferior conditions in terms of size and they suffer from poor maintenance,” according to the lawsuit.

In February, Mayor Rami Greenberg asked residents to report to a hotline any asylum seekers they saw in order to have them removed from the city.

Petach Tikvah, a city of some 233,000 residents, is about 6.5 miles east of Tel Aviv.

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