Mi­grants re­leased from Is­rael de­ten­tion cen­ters


Is­rael be­gan re­leas­ing hun­dreds of African mi­grants from a re­mote de­ten­tion cen­ter in south­ern Is­rael on Tues­day, af­ter a court rul­ing ear­lier this month or­dered the re­lease of those held for more than a year.

Since it passed a 2012 “an­ti­in­fil­tra­tion” law, Is­rael has sent 1,700 mi­grants to the Holot fa­cil­ity, deep in Is­rael’s Negev desert. They can come and go, but must sign in sev­eral times a day and sleep there, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to stray far from the re­mote fa­cil­ity or hold jobs. Those who vi­o­late the rules, or re­ject or­ders to re­port there, can be sent to a nearby prison.

The Supreme Court up­held the law but ruled that mi­grants held at Holot for more than 12 months must be freed.

Some 50,000 African mi­grants are in Is­rael, most from the striferid­den coun­tries of Eritrea and Su­dan. Many say they are flee- ing con­flict and per­se­cu­tion and are seek­ing refugee sta­tus. Is­rael says they are eco­nomic mi­grants in search of work whose swelling num­bers threaten the coun­try’s Jewish char­ac­ter.

About 1,200 mi­grants will be re­leased be­gin­ning Tues­day. Another 500 will re­main at Holot un­til the end of their 1-year hold­ing pe­riod.

Tues­day’s re­lease was bit­ter­sweet for Faysal Hus­sein, 28, from Su­dan. Hus­sein walked out of Holot’s po­lice-pa­trolled en­trance with a back­pack, a few dozen shekels, no job or home, and no idea where to go. Like the oth­ers leav­ing with him, he said he has lit­tle sup­port and was now forced to catch a bus to some­where else, where the pres­sure to find food, shel­ter, med­i­cal care, and safety will be­gin again.

“I have no place to go. I don’t know any­one. I have no money. I don’t know what to do,” Hus­sein said.

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