High Court Prevents Segregating Refugees in Eilat Schools

30 August 2012 By Ruby Ong

30 August 2012

The Eilat Municipality and Israel's Ministry of Education have agreed to integrate the children of African refugees into its schools. The agreement came after the High Court of Justice harshly criticized the existing segregation plan and ended months of legal debate. The matter was brought to the court by NIF grantees Hotline for Migrant Workers and the Assaf Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, in partnership with the Clinic for Migrants' Rights at the Academic Center of Law and Business in Ramat Gan.

The agreement came as more than two million Israeli children returned to schools earlier this week. Following pressure from local parents’ organizations in Eilat, the city had planned putting the refugees' children into separate schools.

High Court Justice Yoram Danzinger was scathing about the plan to segregate students. He said, "I shudder to think what would have happened in another country if any other ethnic group, not necessarily Jews, would have been told that they should study in a separate school."

The decision affects about 55 children of African refugees and asylum seekers in Eilat. The children will now be treated as if they were Jewish new immigrants, and will be taught in a separate stream within regular schools and routinely tested to see if they can be integrated into mainstream classes.