An Israel Hayom poll found that 61.3 percent of Jewish Israelis believe the best way to deal with the recent phenomenon of illegal immigration from Africa is to sent the illegal migrants to a third country immediately.
A further 18.4% think they should be sent back to the Holot open detention facility with arrest as a penalty for those who do not agree to go, and 11.6% think the migrants should be given the opportunity to live and work in Israel.
The poll results follow four days of protests and an ongoing strike, as illegal migrants demand to be recognized as refugees and to be granted full rights. Despite an unchanging government policy, the protests and strike have garnered the migrants public awareness of their cause. They have also sparked discussions among rabbis, MKs and the legal community.
Head of the AMIT Orot Shaul yeshiva Rabbi Yuval Cherlow published an opinion piece on the topic. He wrote, "The government of Israel will meet with experts in the field and will therefore act as follows: Those we cannot absorb will be sent away from Israel, and those that we take in, will be granted all the rights they need in order to lead a simple, fair lifestyle."
The Supreme Court is preparing for a legal battle on the issue. Supreme Court President Justice Asher Grunis ruled on Wednesday that the hearing on the petitions by human rights organizations against the new law to prevent infiltration will be discussed before an extended panel.
Dozens of members of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel sent a letter of support on Thursday to Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar and MK Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi). The letter encouraged them to continue working towards ending infiltration into Israel.
Attorney Idan Abuhav, one of the letter writers, explained that "in the face of left-wing organizations that seek to pressure the government on the issue of illegal migrants, it is important to recall the rights of Israeli citizens."
The Knesset Committee for Foreign Workers, chaired by MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), will tour the Holot open detention facility in the Negev on Sunday.
Meanwhile, after taking to the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, organizers in the migrant community are now planning how they can continue their struggle against government policies.
Many of the illegal migrants are planning to continue their strike, which has left many service jobs, particularly kitchen and cleaning work, unmanned. In Eilat, some 3,000 migrants are employed in service jobs, with many of them striking.
"We must strike and we must struggle, but we also need money," said Ismail, a migrant from the Darfur region of Sudan who works in a south Tel Aviv bakery and chose to end his strike on Thursday. "I work every day to be able to buy food, drink, clothing and to pay rent. I can't stop working completely or I won't have any food."
Emmanuel Yamna from Eritrea, who has become one of the leaders of the protest movement, believes the strike should continue at all costs. "We will continue the strike until there is a new announcement, since we already have nothing to lose," he said. "What will we lose? Money? We already lost our lives, our dreams. We have nothing, and all that is left for us is to fight for our rights as refugees."
The difficult situation has already led to violence and threats among the migrant community, against those who have returned to their workplaces, breaking the strike.