Communist Knesset Member Dov Khenin (Joint List) has demanded from the Interior Minister and legal adviser to the government to immediately release from Saharonim prison in the Negev the 280 refugees from Eritrea and Sudan who were incarcerated there after the closing of the Holot detention camp last week.
Persons who had not filed a request for refugee status by January 2018 were transferred to Saharonim for an unlimited period of time. For detained citizens of Eritrea and Sudan, the only way to have left the Holot detention center before it closed was to accept deportation to a third country.
Hundreds of African asylum seekers will remain in Israeli prisons this Passover, their fate on hold after the country’s Supreme Court gave the government an extension — for the third time — to respond to a petition challenging the mass deportation of asylum seekers originally planned to start on April 1.
The court issued an injunction on March 15 against the deportations themselves, but Israeli authorities are still permitted to hand out deportation notices. The roughly 300 asylum seekers already imprisoned for refusing “voluntary deportation” to Rwanda or Uganda will remain behind bars until the justices make their final decision.
“It is inconceivable that the Jewish people will celebrate Passover while hundreds of asylum seekers wait in prison until the state is kind enough to submit its updated response to the court,” wrote Attorney Eitay Mack in reaction to the state’s request for yet another delay in the case.