In my prior post I described the plight of African refugees in Levinsky Park in downtown Tel Aviv where many hundreds, ill clothed and hungry, face a record-breaking cold and rainy winter. Last week was no exception when I visited the park one night. It was chilly but thankfully it wasn’t raining.  That was about to change as a major storm was blowing in with high winds, temperatures dropping into the 40’s (Fahrenheit), and four days of hard, steady rain forecast. The refugees were standing in line for a meal of soup and bread, the only food for many of them all day. Most were wearing sweatshirts and light jackets, some with hoods. Some had thin blankets wrapped around their bodies and over their heads.

This situation will only get worse as more asylum seekers, fleeing war in Sudan and persecution in Eritrea, cross the Israeli border. For years now the Israeli government has ricocheted between periods of draconian policies targeting the refugees and periods of simply ignoring the problem.  Now the number of refugees has grown too large to ignore – an estimated 40,000+ asylum seekers – and the government is instituting the most oppressive refugee policies in its history.  The objective is to make life so unbearable that others won’t follow in their footsteps.

To read more about the government’s response to this crisis, see http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/from-africa-to-tel-aviv-part-two-draconian-government-policies .

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