Eritrean migrants protesting 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel on Wednesday rejected a request from a group
of human rights organizations to freeze the state’s new migrant policy until the
court ruled on the organizations’ earlier petition.
The petition, which
the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and the Hotline for Refugees
and Migrant Workers filed on December 15, seeks to strike down the new
Hendel – ruling alone on the issue, as often occurs with requests
for interim freeze orders – said that since the Knesset had crafted a complex
new legislative scheme to handle the issue, it would be improper to freeze the
policy without a full hearing.
The decision means that the 500-plus
orders that the state has sent migrants, requiring them to come to the new
“open” detention center in the Negev, continue to have legal standing, since it
is unlikely there will be a ruling on the full petition ahead of their deadline
for arriving at the center.
In their petition, the two human rights
groups claimed that even the changes in the new policy still violated the
court’s mid-September decision declaring the old policy and certain aspects of
the detention unconstitutional.
The old policy permitted placing migrants
in detention for up to three years pending determination of their refugee
Under the new policy, migrants who illegally cross the border
after the legislation’s passage can be placed in detention for up to one year
pending determination of their status. Migrants who were already illegally in
Israel prior to the new policy may be detained indefinitely in the “open”
detention center, which lets them leave during daylight hours but must report
back at night. The center is located in an isolated desert area.
migrants who violate the terms of the “open” detention center and those accused
of certain crimes can also be placed in closed detention.
Since the new
policy’s enactment in December, migrants have staged numerous demonstrations
against it, including refusing to return to the “open” center.
has reacted by arresting many migrants who refused to go back to the
Residents of south Tel Aviv, where many migrants reside, have
mostly been satisfied with the new policy, though they have filed a separate
petition to block any migrants who have been released from detention from
returning to south Tel Aviv.