The previous law was struck down by the High Court, which ordered the state to begin releasing the asylum seekers it was indefinitely detaining. Instead, the Knesset passed a law to circumvent the ruling and indefinitely detain asylum seekers in ‘open prisons.’
By Elizabeth Tsurkov
After a passionate debate and a filibuster by opposition members of Knesset, the new amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law passed 30 to 15 early Tuesday morning. The new amendment, hurriedly drafted and passed by the governing coalition, will replace the 2012 amendment to the law, which was nixed by the High Court of Justice three months ago.
The previous amendment to the law permitted the detention of asylum seekers without trial for a three-year period in Israel’s Saharonim and Ktziot prisons. Under the new amendment, asylum seekers will be jailed for one year in the prisons, followed by additional indefinite detention in a specially constructed internment camp operated by the Israeli Prison Service.
Reports indicate that the new “Holot” Camp may become operational as soon as Thursday. Asylum seekers will have to sleep in the camp and be present at three roll calls per day to prevent them from venturing too far outside and gaining employment, which according to the government is the reason asylum seekers come to Israel.
The new law passed through three votes in the plenum, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and the Knesset Interior Committee in less than 90 days to ensure that the state can continue to detain the hundreds of asylum seekers jailed under the abrogated 2012 amendment. The High Court ruling gave the state 90 days to examine the individual cases of all detainees and release them. Instead, the state chose to spend that time drafting and passing the new legislation.
The more than 1,000 asylum seekers still detained under the previous amendment, however, are not the sole targets of the law. Under the new amendment, all asylum seekers can be placed in the...Read More