The Population, Immigration and Border Authority announced Sunday that it would not expel (for now) a non-Jewish citizen of Ethiopia, a father of four. Aipokoro Andayelo Molto, 55, has been imprisoned for a month in the Saharonim prison in the Negev ahead of his expulsion from Israel, even though he’s entitled to permanent resident status due to the fact that his children did their military service here. The state has rejected the family’s request to grant him this status and allow him to remain in Israel. The court did also not accede to the family’s request to settle his status.
Molto’s story first appeared in Haaretz on Thursday. Three of his children did their full military service and two of them are active reserve soldiers. The authority’s regulations governing the granting of residence status to parents of soldiers stipulate that a parent of a male or female soldier who has served at least 12 months in the IDF is entitled to permanent residence status in Israel. This regulation became apparent to Molto’s children only last week, even though they had repeatedly appealed to the authorities in the matter of their father while pursuing legal avenues for resolving the issue. Representatives of the Population and Immigration Authority never mentioned this regulation to the family.
The authority’s spokeswoman Sabine Hadad responded to a query by Haaretz, saying that “the family has not yet submitted a request for examining the granting of a soldier’s parent’s status, but since they will be doing so in the coming days he will not be expelled while the case is under review.”
Only last week the authority declared that “it is not the role of the authorities to advise illegal residents what the preferred path for obtaining legal status is. At this point, as far as the authorities are concerned, all legal processes have ended and Molto must leave the country.”
Despite the decision not to expel him, Molto is still locked up in Saharonim. Attorney Sarah Lewis, from the Legal Aid Center for Olim (Immigrants) at the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, who is representing the family, said: “I’m happy that they’ve decided not to expel him, but we’ll insist that they release him from detention. Under the circumstances it would be appropriate to release him and examine his legitimate request while he’s out of prison. I’m sure that after the family submits its request he will be granted his legal status, as stipulated in the regulations.”