About 1,200 infiltrators will be freed Tuesday and Wednesday from the Holot open detention center in the Negev, following a High Court decision two weeks ago that the Law for Prevention of Infiltration was too harsh, and determined that the infiltrators may only be kept at Holot for one year and not 20 months.
About 600 infiltrators will be released Tuesday and the rest will go free Wednesday. The release process includes giving the individual infiltrators money, documents, medical certificates and medicines for those who require them. Along with the release letter, they will receive a sandwich and a soft drink.
The infiltrators are supposedly forbidden from heading to Tel Aviv and Eilat, but no one knows how this instruction will be enforced.
Interior Minister Silvan Shalom threatened Monday that the infiltrators released from Holot who reach Tel Aviv or Eilat will be sent to Saharonim prison.
Israeli authorities have been struggling to deport the infiltrators to “third countries” in Africa – that is, not to their countries of origin – but with limited success. "We are trying to take them out to third countries in accordance with High Court rulings and the legal system's decisions,” Shalom told Army Radio. “The legal system is working with a slowness that is maddening sometimes, and does not make it possible to carry out the necessary steps.”
The stream of infiltrators entering Israel is growing stronger because of the latest High Court ruling, said Shalom. “They see that they have a possibility of staying here because they are being set free. The organizations appeal to the High Court and they eventually have the laws canceled.”
The High Court determined on August 11 that the maximum time infiltrators could be kept in open detention is 12 months.
The version of the Infiltrator Law that was discussed by the court was approved on the last day of the 19th Knesset's term. Approved by 43 MKs against 20, it stated that illegal infiltrators may be detained at the Saharonim jail for up to three months (instead of a year in the earlier version of the law), after which they are to be transferred to the open facility in Holot. They could be held in the open facility for a maximum of 20 months, instead of one year in the previous version, and can only be made to report to the facility once a day, at the end of the day, instead of three times a day in the previous version of the law.
The Infiltrator Law was revived in November, after key elements were shot down several months earlier by the High Court for Justice.