Petition asks to free Africans from Ketziot

Hotline for Migrant Workers, Tel Aviv University confront High Court to bring about release of two refugees awaiting deportation.

sudanese refugees 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
sudanese refugees 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Hotline for Migrant Workers and the University of Tel Aviv petitioned the High Court of Justice earlier this week to release two of the 300 African refugees incarcerated at the Ketziot refugee camp in the western Negev, where they are awaiting deportation to Egypt. The separate petitions were filed in the name of one refugee from Eritrea and another from Ivory Coast, but maintain that the arguments for releasing the pair apply to all 300 detained in the camp. The petitions were filed by Anat Ben-Dor, a lawyer working on behalf of TAU's Faculty of Law's Refugee Rights Program, and Hotline attorney Yonatan Berman. "At this point, there are more than 300 asylum-seekers from various countries," they wrote. "All are being held in administrative detention by commander's orders issued in accordance with the Law to Prevent Infiltration. All were issued arrest warrants illegally, without having been granted a hearing before their incarceration or judicial review afterward." One of the petitions involves a 32-year-old woman from Eritrea who fled from her country after serving for 11 years in the Eritrean army against her will. She finally escaped to Sudan and arrived in Israel via Egypt on July 21. She was immediately jailed in accordance with the provisions of the Law to Prevent Infiltration. The authorities did not give her the opportunity to apply to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for refugee status or to appear before a judge or similar official in Israel to plead her case. According to the petitioners, the state had already informed the High Court in another petition that it would not detain refugees from countries other than those listed as "enemy countries" under the Law to Prevent Infiltration, and that even those held according to that law would be brought before a representative of the defense minister after 14 days. The Eritrean woman, the lawyers wrote, has been in jail for more than that time.