The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants reported on Tuesday that three asylum seekers who left Israel for a third country over the past year have been executed by the Islamic State in Libya. According to the report, the victims were identified by family members and friends.
The three Eritrean asylum seekers were probably kidnapped together with a group of Christian Ethiopians. The group’s gruesome execution was filmed and distributed by ISIS on Sunday.
At least one of the three asylum seekers, T., was held in the Holot detention center in the Negev before leaving Israel. T.’s relative, Mesi, told Haaretz that the family identified him in the ISIS video. “He appears in the video and in the photographs, definitely,” she said. “He had been in Israel since the end of 2007. He decided to go back after the Israeli Ministry of Interior told him he would be better off.”
According to Mesi, T. “went back to Uganda or Rwanda – I think Rwanda – where they are not accepted. From there he went on to Sudan, and from Sudan to Libya.” She said that he was not able to remain in Libya, and tried to reach Europe by boat. “I understood that the boat was returned to Libya,” she said, “where they were arrested. Rumors have it that the extreme Islamic group snatched them from the jail itself.”
Mesi said she tried to dissuade T. from going to a third county. “They told him he would be better off if he flies. I asked him not to. He didn’t tell us he had signed [papers] to leave.” She added that she and other friends of T. tried to tell him things could change for the better, “that [asylum seekers] would be released from Holot.”
Mesi added that she did not keep in touch with T. after he left Israel, but received updates from his brother, who resides in Norway. “He told me that T. arrived in Sudan and Libya and that he hadn’t spoken to him in a long time because he was in Libyan prison.” She said T.’s brother saw the images of ISIS’ execution, but did not think his brother was among the group of Ethiopian Christians.
Last month, the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority confirmed a report in Haaretz that the authority intends to begin deporting asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan to third countries in Africa, even without their consent.
The authority is not disclosing the identity of those countries or the nature of the agreements, but they are apparently Uganda and Rwanda, where about 1,500 asylum seekers have already been sent over the past year after signing a statement that their departure was voluntary.
Under the new policy, asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan will be able to be deported without their consent. Those who refuse will also be placed at the Saharonim Prison in south Israel for an indefinite period.