A large number of African immigrants in Israel have staged a protest rally near the Egyptian border to voice their dissatisfaction with living conditions in their internment camp.
On Friday, around 1,000 African immigrants, mostly Eritrean and Sudanese nationals, took part in the protest rally to condemn what they called “inhuman and unlimited” detention in the Holot internment camp.
The demonstrators also called on the international community and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to facilitate their immigration to a third country.
Some 2,300 immigrants reside in Holot. The protesters say the place is “actually a prison” although Israeli officials try to present it as an “open facility.”
In December 2013, the Israeli parliament approved a law, allowing officials to keep African migrant workers in detention facilities without trial for one year.
The law also gives Tel Aviv the right to send “illegal immigrants” to complexes called “open facilities” until they are deported or voluntarily go back to their homelands. Migrants kept in the open facilities will have no right to work.
In January, the UNHCR said Israel’s new immigration rules could breach the international law as they enable the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.
Human Rights Watch has also blamed Tel Aviv for using the “threat of prolonged detention” to force the African migrants to give up their asylum claims.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the African immigrants as “illegal infiltrators flooding” Israel and threatening the security of Israel
More than 50,000 African immigrants, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, currently work in low-paying jobs in Israel.