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Killing African migrants

January 25, 2014 at 3:42 am

The Israeli authorities have said that an unknown man was killed and another was wounded by border guards when the two tried to cross the border from the Sinai Peninsula. They were not armed. The Israelis have tried to conceal this crime through hiding the identity of both men; officially, it has not been revealed that they were Africans searching for political or humanitarian asylum and food in a country that they must have thought – mistakenly – is democratic and adopts Western values.

While it is true that Sinai used to be a base for launching rocket attacks against Israeli targets, including the port of Eilat, by popular fighters, it is also the preferred destination for ‘illegal’ African migrants.

Throughout the thirty years that deposed president Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt, his border guards used to shoot such migrants. That was Cairo’s inhumane role in support of Israel which does not fit the civil and human status of post-revolution Egypt.

Israel, a country of migrants, which was founded at the expense of expelling Palestinians from their homeland and replacing them by Jews from all over the world, refuses to do the same as European countries which receive migrants. Its claims that it adopts and respects the migration guidelines implemented by Europe, which follow international rules and conventions, are palpable nonsense.

All European countries, without exception, receive foreign migrants from areas affected by famine and civil war, such as Somalia, Eretria and Ethiopia. They offer migrants all the means to have a decent life, including citizenship and passports.

We do not know why such countries keep silent about Israel’s dreadful apartheid which, after the collapse of the white versions in South Africa and Zimbabwe, is now the only such regime in the entire world.

Israel detains African migrants and keeps them in apartheid prisons. It prevents them from taking honourable jobs and, for the past couple of weeks, has started compulsory deportation of thousands of them.

European and Western countries do not shoot migrants as Israel has done. We have never heard of Britain’s Border Agency killing illegal migrants arriving from France or other countries as they try to infiltrate the border at Dover. They are treated relatively well. The same goes for France, which has 6 million migrants with French passports; and Germany, with an estimated 4 million, most of them Turks.

Even poor countries with most of their own inhabitants living under the poverty line, such as Sudan and Yemen, do not close their borders to African migrants fleeing civil war or starvation. Sudan has hosted 4 million, and Yemen 2 million, from Somalia and Eretria alone.

Such racist action by Israel must not pass without international investigation and condemnation. The silence of the international community makes the world complicit in such crimes, just as many countries are complicit by their silence over the killing of Palestinians and occupation of their land. This sorry state of affairs must not be allowed to continue. Urgent action against Israel is needed, and it’s needed now.

The author is editor-in-chief of Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper. This article was translated from the Arabic version published on 18 July 2012

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.