MKs fight deportation of Sudanese after Egyptians lynch refugees

Sunday, August 05, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

A majority of Israeli lawmakers have signed a petition against deporting back to Egypt many of the Sudanese refugees who have sought asylum in the Jewish state.

According to different estimates, between 1,000 and 5,000 Sudanese refugees have crossed into Israel via the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula over the past three years. Most have spoken of serious abuse at the hands of the Egyptians and almost no aid from the local branch of the UN Human Rights Council.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last month decided to return many of the refugees to Egypt, fearing that a continued influx would damage Israel's ability to oppose Arab demands that the Jewish state open its doors to millions of so-called “Palestinian refugees.”

At the time, Olmert assured Israeli human rights groups that Egypt had given its word that the returning Sudanese would be treated well.

However, the lynching by Egyptian soldiers of two Sudanese trying to cross into Israel last Wednesday has destroyed the credibility of Olmert's assertion.

An shaken Israeli soldier who spoke to Channel 10 News last Thursday recounted how his patrol had been alerted that a group of four Sudanese were approaching the border seeking asylum. At the same time, a group of Egyptian soldiers also spotted the refugees and opened fire, killing two and wounding a third.

The unwounded Sudanese man made a dash for the border, but as he took the hand of the waiting Israeli soldier, two Egyptian troops grabbed his legs, resulting in a tug-of-war over the hapless refugee. The Israeli eventually loosened his grip after other Egyptian soldiers aimed their weapons at him.

The Israelis then watched in horror as the Egyptian soldiers dragged the Sudanese man several meters from the border fence and beat him to death.

The incident was almost completely ignored by the international media, which has chosen to turn a blind eye to ongoing abuses perpetrated by the Egyptians against the displaced African Muslims and Christians from Sudan's Darfur region.

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