Reopening Holot is ‘yet another spin,’ setting us back years, NGO says

Standing Together has led a campaign in the past few months to prevent the deportation of African migrants.

April 25, 2018 20:17
2 minute read.
Reopening Holot is ‘yet another spin,’ setting us back years, NGO says

An African migrant holds an Israeli flag after being released from Holot detention centre in Israel's southern Negev desert August 25, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)


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The decision to reopen the Holot detention center is just another spin, and would set Israel years back from what it has achieved with the African migrant population, says Nadav Bigelman the NGO Standing Together.

Standing Together has led a campaign in the past few months to prevent the deportation of African migrants and organized rallies attended by thousands to show support for the migrant community.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on his Facebook page that “because of the refusal of the third-party countries to receive the infiltrators under the conditions that Israel demanded,” he agreed with Interior Minister Arye Deri to promote a plan to reopen Holot, which is located in the Negev, and at the same time promote legislation that will allow deporting them.

“This move is yet another spin, and it proves to us that this government can’t advance any real plan on this issue,” Bigelman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

“We are essentially going back several years and repeating a move that was horrible even back then. It cost the Israeli public millions of shekels, it didn’t solve the problem of south Tel Aviv and only made the problem worse,” he said.

Bigelman mentioned the plan that was initiated by Netanyahu earlier this month to absorb around 16,000 African migrants, while spreading them throughout the country and rehabilitating the neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv. At the same time, the same number of migrants would be resettled in Western countries that would agree to receive them.

The plan was scrapped by Netanyahu approximately six hours after it was introduced to the public in a televised press conference, due to pressure from the premier’s constituency base.

Bigelman said that this solution would be appropriate. “This is what we demanded for a very long time – spreading and absorbing [the migrants in different places], investing in south Tel Aviv, and those who can leave would be absorbed by countries that can really help them and give them asylum, not countries like Uganda or Rwanda.

“Opening Holon seems like a move that the government is initiating because it has nothing else to do,” he said.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Tuesday that there is no use in opening the Holot detention center – which he called a “hotel for infiltrators” – without passing the bill that would overthrow the High Court of Justice’s decision and essentially allow the deportation of the African migrants.

“Opening the facility, which can contain only 3,000 out of 40,000 [migrants], without passing the articles of the bill that were annulled [by the court], will only lead to opening a hotel for infiltrators that costs citizens hundreds of millions of shekels per year, and will not make any infiltrator leave the country,” he said.

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