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Quietly, Migrants are being Returned to Detention Facility

MK Ayelet Shaked refutes leftist claims that Holot detention center for infiltrators violates human rights.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 1/26/2014, 5:30 PM

On the bus to Holot
On the bus to Holot
Flash 90

The government has slowly begun to round up infiltrators who escaped the Holot detention facility last month to participate in the large-scale protests against immigration laws, and return them to the center.  

Several migrants were seen boarding state-sponsored buses in southern Tel Aviv Sunday, as members of leftist groups that organize the migrants looked on. 

Meanwhile, the Knesset Committee for Foreign Workers, headed by MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), toured the Holot Detention Facility in the Negev Sunday afternoon.

Jewish Home faction chairwoman MK Ayelet Shaked, who participated in the tour, confirmed Interior Minister Gideon Saar's assurances during the protests that the conditions inside the facility are appropriate.

"Despite the differences in opinion between us Knesset members, I still believe it is important that Israel provides illegal aliens housed in the facility with the best humanitarian conditions," Shaked stated after the tour. "The Minister of Interior informed me that conditions at the facility are indeed very appropriate, and I came to see that with my own eyes."

Shaked added, "it is the State of Israel's responsibility to enforce the law detaining illegal immigrants, thus encouraging illegals to leave of their own volition." The MK noted that in the past month alone, at least 700 infiltrators have willingly left Israel's borders. 

Albert Shriki, the commander of the nearby Saharonim facility who is who is also in charge of the Holot detention center, began the Knesset tour by explaining that Holot is divided into 4 sections. Currently only one is in use - and holds roughly 300 people. 

Each section has a medical facility with a doctor and a paramedic, Shriki said, as well as an employment division that finds paid work for the detainees, whivh is carried out inside inside the center. 

The facility has a maximum capacity of roughly 3,600. The grounds are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and detainees are allowed free movement between the various camps and sections. Each residential room holds about 10 people, the MKs learned, and the facilities offer a relatively large amount of living space per person.

Every infiltrator also receives 5 days of professional training from the Immigration and Population Authority, and an allowance of 500 shekels per month to spend on consumer products available at the facility.

For entertainment, a TV center at the facility houses some 140 televisions with 12 stations, some from the infiltrators' home countries of Eritrea and Sudan. Sports and art activities are also offered, which the detainees can volunteer to attend if they wish. 

Two classrooms offer educational courses for the detainees. Three hot meals are given to detainees at the center every day, as well. An externally funded cleaning crew also keeps the public areas neat on a daily basis.  

"Infiltrators housed here get all of their needs attended to," Shaked noted at the end of the tour. "Warm food, activities, education, legal counsel, hot water 24 hours a day and a dedicated staff available for other needs."

"I hope that the State of Israel continues to enforce the law and to encourage more infiltrators to leave on their own," she continued. "I am proud to be a citizen of the State of Israel, where even illegal aliens' humanitarian needs are taken care of." 

Shaked's statements provide important proof that Israel is in the right when it comes to illegal immigration, as leftist groups have launches a smear campaign through the international media against the laws behind the detention facility, citing "human rights violations." 

Under legislation passed on December 10, illegal immigrants entering Israel can be held for up to a year without trial. It was the latest in a series of measures aimed at cracking down on the numbers of African migrants entering the country illegally, which Israel says poses both a security and demographic threat.

The new law amends earlier legislation which allowed for immigrants to be held for up to three years without trial that was overturned by the Supreme Court in September.

Illegal entrants previously staged a rally in which men fled the Holot center and marched on Jerusalem. In posters and slogans, they draw comparisons between their condition and the treatment of Jews by Nazis.

Residents of southern Tel Aviv, as well as those of other cities like Eilat, say they have been suffering from endless harassment and violence perpetrated by the many illegal Eritrean and Sudanese infiltrators who enter Israel to find employment and come to live in their working-class neighborhood. Residents say they are terrified of leaving their homes and have begged the government to take action. Crime has skyrocketed in those areas since 2011. 

The bill faced considerable controversy in the Knesset, however, with both Leftist MKs and activist groups claiming the law was a violation of human rights. 

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in December that it and other rights groups were renewing efforts to appeal the bill, and had filed a petition against the new law. "The organizations claim that the new amendment does not abide by the principles set forth by the court's September 15 decision to overturn the previous amendment to the law, and is in many ways more severe than the nullified amendment," it said.

MKs behind the legislation reiterated earlier this month that the infiltrators are violating immigration laws, and that the waves of migrants had presented a major security risk to Israeli citizens. 

MK Miri Regev (Likud) stated, “Residents of southern Tel Aviv and Eilat also have human rights," and echoed concerns about Israeli security made by Minister Gideon Sa'ar. 



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