The World’s Largest Detention Center Is For Black Jews Seeking Asylum In Israel
Despite a court order demanding the release of hundreds of immigrants, Israel recently expanded the criteria under which refugees could be held at Holot Detention Center in the Negev Desert.
By Kit O’Connell @KitOConnell | October 14, 2015
Source: Mint Press News
JERUSALEM — The recent release of 1,200 prisoners from a detention center in the Negev Desert is not a signal that Israel is rethinking its harsh treatment of refugees. Thousands of immigrants still face a choice between imprisonment and repatriation to their war-torn countries.
Some 65,000 African refugees are believed to currently live in Israel. In May, The Washington Post reported that Israel sent letters to 45,000 refugees from Sudan and Eritrea, offering them a choice: They could accept accept a cash payment and a one-way ticket back to Africa, or they could go to prison. Israel also began construction of a massive fence to prevent the entry of more refugees this year.
In February, Amnesty International strongly objected to the treatment of African refugees in Israel, both in and out of detention:
“Asylum seekers were prohibited by law from taking paid work and had little or no access to health care and welfare services. Meanwhile, the authorities pressured many to leave Israel ‘voluntarily’ under a process that paid them to withdraw their asylum claims and return to their home countries or travel to third countries. More than 5,000 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals were reported to have accepted ‘voluntary return’ in the first 10 months of the year, some leaving after facing imminent risk of detention, despite fears that they faced persecution or torture in the countries from which they had fled.”
Despite being recognized by Amnesty and the world community as refugees in need of aid, Israel labels them “infiltrators,” stemming from the 1954 “Prevention Of Infiltration” Act. As MintPress News reported in February, the law allows refugees to be automatically detained if they can not, for humanitarian reasons, be deported. For thousands of these refugees, their destination on arrival is Saharonim Prison, where they can be held for up to three months, and then on to Holot Detention Center, where they can again be held for an extended period of time. Read the full story here.