Israel votes to detain migrants for one year without trial, says Africans "pose threat to Jewish character"
Israel's parliament voted in favor of a law that allows illegal African immigrants to be detained for up to a year without trial, according to Agence France-Presse reports from Tuesday.
Israeli MPs told reporters that the legislation, which passed 30-15, is an improvement from the 2012 policy that allowed illegal immigrants to be held for up to three years without a trial.
The passage of the new law represents the Jewish state's latest effort to curb Africans from entering the country, with Israeli leadership saying that Africans' presence in the country is "posing a threat to the state's Jewish character."
Previously, the government has cracked down on employers who hired immigrants and also provided financial incentives to Africans residing in the country to return to their country of origin. Israel also deported nearly 4,000 migrants in 2012 and built a fence along its border with Egypt to discourage more African migrants from attempting to enter the Jewish state.
Construction is further underway to build a detention center to hold migrants who are both entering-and leaving-the country. The facility will be operated by the Israel Prisons Services and will be able to initially hold up to 3,300 people. It will officially begin operating this Thursday.
Tuesday's legislative decision was hailed by the hardliners from the Likud Party as a move in the right direction so that Israel could "send them all back to their countries."
However, not all parties welcomed the legislation, most notably the left-wing Meretz party.
Most African migrants in Israel, according to human rights groups noted by AFP, qualify as refugees since their lives would be in danger if they returned to their countries of origin.