Thousands of Africans, upwards of 30,000 peacefully protested in Tel Aviv, to oppose Israel not granting them refugee status and thus detaining them as such.
The protesters who on Sunday staged the largest rally in Tel Aviv ever by migrants.
“We are all refugees” and “Yes to freedom, no to prison!” they chanted in English, with Israeli rights activists also joining the march.
A civil rights group that is supporting the refugees stated that if they returned to their native countries of Sudan and Eritrea, their lives would be in danger.
He said the demonstration was “a sharp and clear cry for the State of Israel and judicial and law enforcement authorities to apply all the means at their disposal to return the infiltrators to their countries”.
Dawud, an Eritrean asylum-seeker at the protest, said that: “We have fled persecution, dictatorships, civil wars and genocides.
“Instead of considering us refugees, Israel treats us like criminals,” he added.
Israel passed legislation on December 10 stating that African immigrants who enter the country can be jailed for up to 1 year without a trial.
Most of the immigrants, who are overwhelmingly employed in low paying jobs in restaurants and hotels, also decided to go on a three-day strike in several Israeli cities on Sunday.
Many migrants live in poor neighborhoods of Tel Aviv where violent race riots erupted in 2012, which exacerbates the situation.
Greg B., is a financial professional and native Ohioan who is the writer here. I am an avid reader, coffee connoisseur and dog lover. Follow me on Twitter @love2edify.