Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

Victims of Torture and Human Trafficking

Israeli human rights organizations estimate that about 4,000 survivors of the torture camps in Sinai currently live in Israel, most of them are from Eritrea. Many of the survivors were  severely tortured by electric shocks, burnt with molten iron and plastics, beaten, starv​ed​,​ suffered​ sexual assault and more. As all asylum seekers in Israel, they live without status, social rights or even a work permit. At ASSAF they are offered pshycho-social aid.


Trafficking in Persons Report, United States Department of State

In June 2016, The US State Department published its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, reviewing the struggle against the causes and the effort to mitigate the consequences of human trafficking in various countries in the world, including Israel. This year, just as we do every year, the team at ASSAF submitted information and updates on victims of human trafficking and torture among asylum seekers and the key challenges they face in Israel. 

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Recommendations for Israel in this report (see page 212):

Continue to impose stricter sentences on convicted traffickers, consistent with the gravity of the crime; ensure trafficking victims are not penalized, including by detention, for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking, such as immigration violations; further strengthen victim identification and referral measures among African migrants in detention facilities, especially those who endured severe abuses in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula; continue to provide protection for all trafficking victims, including shelter and medical and psycho-social treatment; further increase and train the number of labor inspectors, social workers, and interpreters in the agricultural, construction, and caregiving sectors; increase training for law enforcement, including police and prison officials, in victim identification, victim sensitivity, and enforcement of labor and sex trafficking laws; and increase enforcement of foreign worker labor rights.


Read the full report in English (2016)

2019 Annual Report - Input from ASSAF

2021 Annuak Report - Inpur from ASSAF 

UN Committee Against Torture

ASSAF's Response to Israel's 5th Periodic Report to the UN Committee Against Torture

In March 2016, a shadow report was submitted to the UN Committee Against Torture by ASSAF and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). The report was written together with the International Human Rights Clinic at the Hebrew University. The report focuses on the breach of Israel's obligation to identify and rehabilitate torture victims among asylum seekers in Israel. Read More

Read the Report

UNCAT's Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Israel

UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) published its observations on Israel on 13 May, following a hearing in Geneva earlier this month. The Committee’s recommendations include, for the very first time, a clear call on the State of Israel to ensure that asylum seekers who have undergone torture are identified and get access to appropriate rehabilitation services. Read More

Read the Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Israel

Torture Survivors Project in ASSAF

ASSAF's team strives to fulfill the complex needs of the victims of torture and trafficking while offering a safe place for them to share their burden. ASSAF supports some 200 victims of torture; among them 70% are women, survivors of the torture camps in the Sinai Peninsula. The services include: group empowerment sessions, individual sessions, referrals to relevant external services (mental and medical) and, if needed, to protective shelters.

Testimonies of Survivors of the Sinai Torture Camps

As of 2014, it was estimated that about 7,000 asylum seekers in Israel are survivors of the torture camps in Sinai, where they were held by Bedouin gangs to extract ransom from them after they had fled their country. In these camps, they underwent prolonged and severe torture, including rape, scalding with hot metal, electrocution, hanging, shackling, as well as deprivation of food, water and sleep.

A Passover campaign of ASSAF on social media, from April 2014, revealed the horrible stories of some of the NGO's patients who are survivors of the torture camps in Sinai. The testimonies were followed by posters that, while drawing inspiration from holiday symbols, raised awareness regarding the situation of the survivors and their struggle for recognition.

Artist: Anat Michaelis of the Bezalel Art School. 

"I Wanted to Lie Down and Die"

Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt

This 79-page report documents how, since 2010, Egyptian traffickers have tortured Eritreans for ransom in the Sinai Peninsula, including through rape, burning, and mutilation. It also documents torture by traffickers in eastern Sudan and 29 incidents in which victims told Human Rights Watch that Sudanese and Egyptian security officers facilitated trafficker abuses rather than arresting them and rescuing their victims. Egyptian officials deny there are trafficker abuses in Sinai, allowing it to become a safe haven for traffickers.

February 11, 2014