At least three Eritrean asylum seekers who lived in Israel and were deported to a third country were executed by Islamic State militants in Libya this past week, according to family and friends who recognized them in a video released by the extremist Sunni group. The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants is checking the possibility that additional Eritreans deported by Israel were also executed.
“I recognized my relative, T., from the photos published by ISIS that appeared on Facebook before the video was released,” says Mesi Fashiya, an Israeli-born Eritrean who came to Israel in the 70s. “I thought it was him, but then ISIS announced that it was a group of Ethiopians, so I began to look into it. The people at the Holot detention center also saw the photos — they hoped it was only photos, and that they didn’t really kill them. After they released the video there was no doubt. I couldn’t watch, but my friends in Holot did and couldn’t sleep all night.”
T. a distant relative of Fashiya, came to Israel through Egypt in 2007. He lived with her for a period of time, and the two became close. According to her, T.’s mental state deteriorated after being sent to Holot, and despite her promises to try and do everything to release him, he eventually decided to sign a voluntary departure form and was deported to a third country — Rwanda or Uganda. T.’s brother, who lives in Norway, told Fashiya that T. attempted to reach Europe. He crossed Sudan and reached Libya, where he got on a boat to Europe that was turned back. The last thing they heard was that he was in a Libyan prison.