Students from various African countries who were part of an Israeli government program to study agriculture have been kicked out of the Israeli town of Avshalom, after locals claimed they would bring “rape, murder and break-ins” to the area.
WhatsApp messages from a group of local residents obtained by Israeli media include statements such as: “There is a very serious problem and we need to deal with it urgently. Otherwise, remember very well what I’m saying, the day is not far away that there will be rape, murder and break-ins in the community.”
Another resident wrote: “As far as I’m concerned, they are animals, rapists, human trash. Their place is not here.”
“This is racism, it’s nothing else,” said Nir Damari, the owner of the house in Avshalom that had been rented out to the students. “What really bothers the residents is the renters’ skin colour,” he told Israeli media.
The incident comes at a time when anti-African racism in Israel has reached an all-time high.
In July, Israeli parliamentarian, Oren Hazan, said that Africans have no culture and that African refugees in Israel should be stopped from having children. In the video interview, Hazan further claimed that African immigrants are a “threat to Israel” that would destroy the country.
“If we don’t kick them out they will kick us out. We need to destroy the problem when it is still small,” said Hazan.
A new Israeli law now allows the government to withhold the salaries of African migrants until they leave the country. According to activists fighting the law, this is yet another attempt by the Israeli government to force them out.
In January, Israel offered to pay African migrants $3500 per person to leave Israel. According to the government-sponsored deal, each migrant would also receive a free air ticket to return home or go to “third countries”, which rights groups identified as Rwanda and Uganda.
In April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a deal with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to relocate African migrants, and respond to the protection needs of African asylum seekers in Israel.
Netanyahu has called African migrants a threat to Israel, and Israeli government minister, Miri Regev, has referred to African migrants as “a cancer”. At the time, 52% of Israeli Jews agreed with Regev’s statement and a third approved of anti-African migrant violence.