Immigration officers escort African migrant 370 (R).
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
The court should throw out its earlier order temporarily freezing any mass
arrests of migrants, and dismiss a petition seeking a permanent freeze, the
state attorney filed in a response to a petition on Thursday before the
Jerusalem District Court.
The state answered that since it has to date
never made a decision on the issue that the court could freeze, the petitioners
have jumped the gun in filing their request, since the court cannot attack a
government decision before such a decision is made.
The Association for
Civil Rights in Israel, Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in
Israel and several other groups filed a petition on October 3
seeking a freeze
to mass arrests of migrants.
The petition was brought about by Interior
Minister Eli Yishai’s August 28 announcement that all Sudanese asylum- seekers
would have to leave the country by October 15, or face arrest and placement in
the detention centers in the South that are currently being
Yishai’s announcement was never contradicted by any major
On October 11, the Jerusalem District Court issued an
order freezing any impending mass arrests of migrants until a final hearing on
October 30, giving the state until Thursday to file a response.
after that decision, a senior Interior Ministry representative said that Yishai
would not necessarily be deterred by the court order.
disclaimed the earlier announcements
by Yishai as unofficial announcements that
did not reflect finalized government policy, which was still being
The response said the Population, Immigration and Border
Authority is the official body for issuing final government decisions, not the
The state claimed that it had not responded before the
petition was filed to inquiries regarding Yishai’s announcement, due to a long
recess associated with the fall Jewish holidays.
The state did not
explain why it did not respond to Yishai’s announcement during the period after
the recess and before the High Holy Days.
ACRI attorney Oded Feller said
that Yishai “took a severe and unprecedented step,” and no responsible authority
took action to restrain him. The minister responsible for treatment of
asylum-seekers did not hesitate to issue the baseless and cruel announcement
that thousands of asylum-seekers along with their children would be detained in
extreme conditions in the desert.
“The decree sowed panic among thousands
of people, including refugees and victims of genocide and torture, women,
children and infants,” Feller continued. “The prime minister and
attorney-general, who knew the announcement had no foundation, stood by and said
nothing.”Ben Hartman contributed to this report.