Citing witness accounts, the groups listed several cases since June in which Israeli soldiers had blocked Eritreans and other migrants at the border fence. In some cases soldiers fired warning shots in the air or threw stun grenades and tear gas canisters to repel the Africans, and in others they entered Egyptian territory and detained the migrants before handing them over to Egyptian forces, according to the reports.
In one incident that attracted extensive Israeli media attention, a group of 21 Eritreans that reached the Israeli border fence remained there from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6 under a makeshift cloth shelter in searing desert heat as Israeli troops prevented their entrance. Eventually two women and a teenage boy were allowed in, and the men were turned back.
“The hunger and thirst were terrible. The Israelis fired [tear] gas at us twice, pushed a long metal pole through the fence and tried to push us back,” the boy said in an affidavit taken in the migrant detention center by Omer Shatz, a lawyer for We Are Refugees, an Israeli legal aid group.