The releases come two weeks after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the provision in the current “anti-infiltration law” allowing the migrants to be held for up to 20 months at the Holot detention center is “disproportionate,” and ordered that they can only be detained for up to 12 months while the law is revised.
“If we will be forced to intensify our battle on the subject, I will not hesitate to call all residents to rally and fight together for the peace of the city”, Ben Hamo wrote on his Facebook.
Israel began releasing African refugees Tuesday from the Holot facility in its Negev desert, but the refugees are now stranded with no place to go.
“He asked because we’re forbidden from going to Tel Aviv”, a migrant identified as Tuskum, who was released earlier that morning, told Channel 2.
The court gave the Israeli government 15 days to implement its ruling that all migrants held there over a year must be released, a deadline that ends Wednesday. Faysal Hussein, 28, from Sudan, walked out of Holot’s police-patrolled entrance with a backpack, a few dozen shekels, no job or home, and no idea where to go. “I don’t know. It’s very hard”.
More than 45,000 African migrants and asylum seekers are in Israel, according to the Israeli Interior Ministry, most from the strife-ridden countries of Eritrea and Sudan. I don’t have money to rent an apartment. “I don’t know what to do”, Hussein said. They are officially barred from working, but many still find jobs in the service industry. They are not eligible for public welfare and are also banned from Tel Aviv and the resort city of Eilat, both epicentres of African communities and potential job prospects.
Many leaving Tuesday said they would go to other, smaller, cities, where they hoped to find work.
As in other parts of the world, illegal migration has become a high-profile issue in Israel, with rightwing politicians calling for action to limit it and activists urging the government to accept people from countries such as Eritrea. “We’re trying to do something so people won’t have problems, so they won’t be in the street”.
Following the discharge process – which involves providing released migrants with supplies, financial compensation, documentation and medical certificates for those who need – authorities will provide the asylum seekers with a release letter, a sandwich and soft drink.
In September, the Supreme Court ordered the state to close the Holot center and struck down the section of the amendment that allows the illegal migrants to be held in closed detention for one year.