“If the Israelis force me to go to Rwanda, I will die,” says Gabriel, a name chosen at random to protect his identity. He is not sure of anything anymore. He is 27 years old, from Eritrea, and he entered Israel illegally four years ago to escape the long compulsory military service in his country and the threats by its security apparatus. Now he has only one certainty: He won’t come out of Rwanda alive.
I asked him to explain the reasons for his fears. “Some Eritrean guys who were here and who left for Rwanda [under pressure from Israel], wrote me about a dramatic situation there, with abuses and people disappearing into thin air,” he told me.
We are in the market adjacent to Levinsky street, not far from the main bus station in Tel Aviv. African asylum seekers, mostly Sudanese and Eritreans, have gathered in the Levinsky gardens for years. Now, they live in hiding. Gabriel agreed to talk to us only after he received assurances from one of our contacts. “No pictures, please,” he said. “We are in danger. I am hiding. We are all hiding. But we know that they [the officials of the Population and Immigration Authority] know where to find us.”