HIAS in Israel

Founded: 1950
Staff Size: 13
Country Director: Sivan Carmel
Office Location: Tel Aviv



Israel is currently host to more than 33,000 asylum seekers, the majority of whom are from Sudan and Eritrea. Many of the African asylum seekers entered Israel through the Sinai after a life-threatening journey at the hands of human traffickers. Their ability to exercise basic human rights, access asylum, and live in dignity and safety in Israel has been an ongoing challenge for over a decade. Government policies and legislation are mostly focused on deterring migrants from entering the country and encouraging those who are seeking asylum to leave the country. Detention and deportation are a constant threat. Although some refugees have been in the country for several years and speak Hebrew fluently, they still have no prospects of local integration and lack stable immigration status and access to basic rights.
The extremely low recognition rates of the Israeli asylum system (less than 1%) make it nearly impossible to be recognized as a refugee and granted the rights that refugee status entails. To date, only seven Eritreans and two Sudanese have been granted refugee status. By comparison, the global recognition rate of Eritreans is over 80% and that of Sudanese is over 60%.


HIAS has assisted hundreds of asylum seekers in legal proceedings, including detention, asylum, and domestic violence cases. HIAS prioritizes individuals who are vulnerable, such as victims of torture and trafficking, single parents, unaccompanied minors, and LGBTQ asylum seekers. HIAS also facilitates the resettlement of some cases to access safety outside of Israel.


Legal Services

For many of the asylum seekers in Israel the stakes are high — they face government proceedings that could deprive them of liberty and protection or leave them separated from their families. Being represented in these proceedings by legal service providers can significantly improve the outcome. Securing legal status is vital to refugees being able to heal and rebuild. It provides freedom from detention, access to services and public benefits, the ability to seek employment, and important legal rights. In addition to help with asylum claims, HIAS provides other forms of legal aid to asylum seekers including legal assistance regarding family law, access to social rights, humanitarian requests and other proceedings. HIAS Israel runs the only program that provides pro bono legal representation for asylum seekers in urgent family law matters in Israel. Many of our clients need legal aid to help them leave abusive relationships, support their families, or see their children.

Through the Rukin Fellows program, HIAS has built a cadre of outstanding lawyers and law students dedicated to providing legal services to those most in need. HIAS Israel collaborates with leading Israeli commercial law firms to provide pro bono support to asylum seekers. We provide firms with training and mentorship; today we have over 150 lawyers and law students in our pro bono network, and our program has assisted over 1000 asylum seekers. While our program focuses mainly on individual representation, we have had legal achievements that made a broad impact on the asylum seeker population in Israel.

Scholarship Program
For the last three decades HIAS Israel has been running a scholarship program for students who have immigrated to Israel (olim). The HIAS Scholarship Program has awarded funds for higher education tuition to student olim based on academic achievement, financial need, and community service.

HIAS’s services are free. If someone tries to charge you for services claiming they represent HIAS, please report it at our confidential email address: ethics@hias.org. HIAS has a zero-tolerance policy on fraud and corruption. 

For any other inquiries please email us at info@hias.org.