African Migrants in Israel Struggle Under New Tax, Racism

Since May, a new tax rule stipulates that Israeli employers must deduct 20 percent of the wages of Eritrean and Sudanese employees who entered Israel illegally from Egypt and have temporary visas.
The sum is then deposited in a fund, alongside an employer-paid tax of 16 percent, and remains there until the worker leaves Israel.
“They want us to leave the country,” said 29-year-old Eritrean community organizer Teklit Michael, who now works as a cook at a restaurant in south Tel Aviv. “They want to break our spirit.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the migrants’ presence a threat to Israel’s social fabric and Jewish identity and some of his supporters have referred to it as “a cancer.”
Israel has granted asylum to fewer than 1 percent of those who have applied and has a years-long backlog of applicants.

African migrants attend a protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel January 5, 2014.

African migrants attend a protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel January 5, 2014.Photo:Reuters

A labourer works on the border fence between Israel and Egypt near the Israeli village of Be

A labourer works on the border fence between Israel and Egypt near the Israeli village of Be’er Milcha September 6, 2012.Photo:Reuters

An Israeli soldier stands near the border fence between Israel and Egypt as African would-be immigrants sit on the other side near the Israeli village of Be

An Israeli soldier stands near the border fence between Israel and Egypt as African would-be immigrants sit on the other side near the Israeli village of Be’er Milcha September 6, 2012.Photo:Reuters

African migrants attend a protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel January 5, 2014.

African migrants attend a protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel January 5, 2014.Photo:Reuters

An African migrant gestures during a protest, held by women and children of the migrant community, against Israel

An African migrant gestures during a protest, held by women and children of the migrant community, against Israel’s detention policy toward migrants, in Tel Aviv, Israel January 15, 2014.Photo:Reuters

Teklit Michael, 29, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, works in the kitchen of a restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel June 25, 2017.

Teklit Michael, 29, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, works in the kitchen of a restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel June 25, 2017.Photo:Reuters

Teklit Michael, 29, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, is silhouetted as he walks home in Tel Aviv, Israel June 25, 2017.

Teklit Michael, 29, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, is silhouetted as he walks home in Tel Aviv, Israel June 25, 2017.Photo:Reuters

Teklit Michael, 29, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, works on his laptop at his home in south Tel Aviv, Israel June 25, 2017.

Teklit Michael, 29, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, works on his laptop at his home in south Tel Aviv, Israel June 25, 2017.

Meanwhile, Palestinians gather in front of the gate of Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza during a protest against the blockade calling for reopening of the crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip July 3, 2017.

Meanwhile, Palestinians gather in front of the gate of Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza during a protest against the blockade calling for reopening of the crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip July 3, 2017.Photo:Reuters

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