The High Court decision on migrants had its first practical impact on last week when a detention review court released an Eritrean woman from custody. The nine High Court judges unanimously struck down a law allowing the country to hold African migrants for up to three years without an administrative process determining their status, and gave the state 90 days to free over 2,000 of them held in the Saharonim detention center in the Negev and determine their status as asylum seekers or illegal immigrants to be deported.
The detention review court of the Justice Ministry relied on the High Court’s decision when it ordered the release of the Eritrean citizen who was being held in Saharonim. Reut Michaeli, an attorney who is the Executive Director of the Hotline for Migrant Workers, told Israel Radio that she hoped that the release of the Eritrean migrant was just the beginning and that the Interior Ministry would release all the detained migrants immediately, rather than “drag its feet.” MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), who led the parliamentary opposition to the amendment, said “it was time for a true change of perception. Refugees and asylum seekers are not criminals.” He also addressed the plight of south Tel Aviv neighborhoods, saying that “as long as they are in the country, they can’t be concentrated, devoid of any rights, in the most underprivileged neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv and other towns.”