Veteran residents of south Tel Aviv were outraged at the unanimous High Court of Justice ruling on Sunday -- which struck down an amendment to the anti-infiltration law -- and were planning to hold a protest against the court ruling Tuesday evening in the Hatikva neighborhood.
Locals of south Tel Aviv's neighborhoods -- inundated with African migrants from several countries over the past decade -- and right-wing politicians alike accused the High Court of being "detached from the populace" and facilitating the "loss of Jewish identity" in Israel.
"When they say that 'there are judges in Jerusalem' what they really mean is that they're out there far away, sitting on their leather chairs. They have no idea what we've gone through here," Aliza Haimov, a 42-year-old resident of the south Tel Aviv Hatikva neighborhood, told Israel Hayom. She said residents have become fearful of theft, mugging, rape and even murder, crimes which she claimed have become routine in south Tel Aviv.
"And it's not just that no one is doing anything, the judges have blocked any measure that could have made things easier for us. This is unbelievable," she said.
Asher Haviv, a 62-year-old resident of south Tel Aviv, accused the High Court justices of being unsympathetic to southern Tel Avivians.
"Whoever made this decision deserves to be punished by living at the central bus station for a month. I have a feeling he would change his mind. Life here has become hellish," he said. "At one time, these neighborhoods were 'of the people.' Today, there's not a mother out there who lets her daughter walk around outside. Drunkards are wandering around, girls aren't leaving their homes. [The High Court justices] have no idea what we've gone through, and it looks like they don't really care"
Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv and Likud city faction Chairman Arnon Giladi accused the High Court of being "detached" from the nation.
"The High Court judges proved they don't understand the depressing, frightening reality in south Tel Aviv neighborhoods," he said. "The High Court abandoned the residents of south Tel Aviv in favor of the infiltrators. A High Court that doesn't allow the incarceration of infiltrators and individuals staying illegally [in Israel] is an institution that has become detached from the nation."
The Drom Ha'ir faction, which is competing in October's municipal elections, made similarly pointed statements.
"The High Court of Justice abandoned Tel Aviv and opened the floodgates to a flow of migrants, which is going to drown the southern neighborhoods," according to a faction statement.
Former Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who in his term spearheaded measures against economic migrants and infiltrators, went a step further and warned that the court decision jeopardized Israel's Jewish character.
The ruling "will be responsible for losing the Jewish majority and the Jewish identity" in Israel, he said.
Meretz MK and candidate for Tel Aviv mayor Nitzan Horowitz offered a more moderate response.
"What's clear now is that no one -- neither [Tel Aviv Mayor Ron] Huldai nor [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu -- can still say: 'this isn't my problem.' This is Tel Aviv's most serious issue at the moment, and it must remain a top priority for decision makers."
Asylum-seekers meanwhile welcomed the High Court ruling. But along with the expected release of some of migrants, several also expressed grievances over the ongoing legal restrictions placed on migrants in Israel.
"We are living here without basic rights," said Moatasem Ali, an asylum-seeker from the Darfur region in Sudan. "They don't check our personal background to see if we're eligible for asylum. I have friends who are locked up because of the [infiltration] law. They feel great that they're getting out of prison, but they still don't know what's going to happen after they get out."
Ali claimed he had been released from prison, but said he could neither seek legal employment nor receive refugee status.
"It's forbidden for me to work and I'm called an infiltrator, a work migrant and a criminal. I am asking for asylum. I don't want to be a refugee, but I have no choice. There's still a war in Darfur and I fled because I was in danger there," he said.
Dawit Damus, an Eritrean asylum-seeker, said the situation in his country also drove him to seek refugee status in Israel.
"We fled a dictatorship to live freely and securely. There's no way that the only possibilities left for refugees are living on the streets or behind bars," said Damus.