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Associated Press
Israel Jails Hundreds of Sudanese Refugees
By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI , 06.04.2006, 02:36 PM

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Standing behind bars and begging to tell of families murdered and homes destroyed, the Sudanese in Maasiyahu Prison are confronting their Israeli jailers with a quandary that taps deep into the trauma of the Holocaust.

The Sudanese, some 220 men and women, say they fled massacres and religious persecution in the war-torn Darfur region and in southern Sudan. But they are not eligible for asylum here because Israel considers their country, an Arab League member, to be an “enemy state.”

The United Nations is documenting their stories and trying with Israeli help to find them refuge in a third country. In the meantime, their imprisonment has angered some Israelis, including the director of Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial. They say the Jews, having suffered genocide, have a moral duty to help the Sudanese.

The prisoners languish in the cells of Maasiyahu, a low-security prison in the central Israeli city of Ramle, where The Associated Press was taken on a visit by the Prisons Authority. Most have been picked up in recent months, while a few have been here about a year.