African immigrants protest Israeli immigration policies
African immigrants in Israel remain camped out near the Egyptian border in protest to the Israeli government's policies on detention and delinquency in granting refugee status.
On Saturday, African asylum seekers spent the night at an outdoor camp near Nitzana border crossing with Egypt in the Israeli Negev Desert.
The development came a day after nearly 1,000 African migrants inside Israel staged a march toward the southern border with Egypt to protest their living conditions at Holot detention facility.
Israeli soldiers stopped the demonstrators, most being from Eritrea and Sudan, nearly 300 meters from the border.
The protesters said in a statement that their march was in protest against their “inhuman and unlimited” detention at the Holot camp, which houses some 2,300 immigrants.
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.
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.