An African migrant holds an Israeli flag after being released from the Holot detention center in the Negev.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset on Monday night approved an amendment to the anti-infiltration law that will limit the jailing of migrants at the Holot detention center to a maximum of 12 months.
The change follows the Supreme Court’s strike down of a 20-month maximum that had been allowed under a previous amendment.
The new amendment was passed by a vote of 55 in favor and 32 against, a week after the Knesset Interior and Environmental Affairs Committee approved it by a vote of 8 to 5.
Repeated versions of the anti-infiltration law have been struck down by the court in recent years, due to questions regarding the legality of jailing asylum seekers and over how long they should be held.
Most of Israel’s more than 40,000 African migrants hail from Eritrea and Sudan, two countries known for human rights abuses and where migrants could face persecution if they were deported home from Israel.
Yesh Atid MK Yael German said the amendment would not suddenly make south Tel Aviv a great place to live, nor will it allow the asylum seekers to find work which may help them move out of the area.
“What do you expect these asylum seekers to do?” she said. “Not eat? Not work? The government is turning a cold heart to the call to find a humanitarian solution.”
A group of Israeli human rights organizations issued a joint press release on Monday saying that “for the fourth time, the Knesset approved a failed policy that helps no one, and wastes the taxpayers’ money. Taking away a year of an asylum-seekers’ life, sending them to Holot Detention Center and forcing them to start their life from scratch when they are released, continues to violate their rights and also continues to deepen the misery in South Tel Aviv and elsewhere.”