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saharonim

  • Marching toward freedom in a fictional plot of land

    Nearly 1,000 African asylum seekers walked out of Israel's 'open' detention facility last week, saying they were headed to a strip of UN-controlled territory along the Egyptian border. This is the story of their march -- full of hopes, determination and desperation. Encampment air hangs hot and still. Under a dry canopy of Eucalyptus it swaddles the crowds of Sudnese and Eritrean asylum seekers who make temporary beds here, some 300 meters from the Israeli-Egyptian border. Hassan Abdaiiah Adam, a 30-year-old asylum seeker from Darfur, passes thick fingers over the yellow whistle that he wears around his neck. He has…

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  • For Israel's Justice Ministry, human rights are nothing but good PR

    Over the past several years, Israel’s Ministry of Justice has found itself a new angle for engaging in public diplomacy: defending some of the worst pieces of Knesset legislation, while celebrating whatever outcome the court hands down when they are challenged. By Hagai El-Ad Human rights are neither a theoretical concept nor a distant vision: for human beings, human rights are either a foundation for a just life – or, more often, humans are deprived of them. In such realities, the enumeration of rights becomes an enumeration of grievances. For human rights organizations, that enumeration of grievances becomes a workplan.…

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  • Photos of the week: Asylum seekers, LGBT activists hit the streets

    This week: solidarity with asylum seekers, animal rights activism, denouncing against attacks on transgender people, return of Palestinian militants' remains, tear gas in Aida Camp, military training in the Jordan Valley, Palestinian steadfastness in Khirbet Makhoul, protests against medical privatization, and weekly demonstrations against the occupation.                    

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  • 150 imprisoned African asylum seekers start hunger strike

    Some 150 Sudanese asylum seekers jailed in the Saharonim prison began an open-ended hunger strike on Sunday. The prisoners, all of whom took part in the March For Freedom last month and were taken back to the facility, announced they would continue to strike until their release. Since Sunday, prison authorities have isolated the hunger strikers, and today four of the leaders were transferred from Saharonim prison to a Be'er Sheva jail. This following is the letter they wrote to the Israeli public. Read +972's full coverage of asylum seekers in Israel Hunger strike for freedom and human rights To the Israeli…

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  • 'This is not a life': A journey to Israel's 'open' detention center

    When a group of Jewish Israelis set out for the Holot 'open prison' in the Negev, they were hoping to sing Christmas carols to the asylum seekers. But by the time they got there, the things they saw and heard made it clear that there was nothing to sing about. By Ayla Peggy Adler When asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan walked out of the Holot prison last week, they walked out of obscurity. Until then, even people like myself who had been involved in their community six years ago when they first arrived to Israel—and who, three years later,…

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  • In act of civil disobedience, 150 Sudanese refugees walk out of Israeli 'open prison'

    The 150 men walk six hours through the Negev desert in bid to reach Jerusalem, are currently in Be'er Sheva and rebuffing authorities' offer to bus them back to the 'Holot' open prison facility that opened late last week. Text by Michael Omer-Man Photos by Yotam Ronen, Oren Ziv, Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org Roughly 150 Sudanese asylum seekers left a new 'open prison' and walked six hours to Be'er Sheva in a mass act of civil disobedience protesting their continued detention without trial and demanding recognition as refugees on Sunday. The asylum seekers were transferred to the new facility, “Holot,” in recent…

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  • Knesset passes revised law for detention of African asylum seekers

    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…

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  • Meet the Israeli who vows to keep going to jail until Africans are released

    Ido Naveh says he will continue to stage non-violent protests outside Israel's desert detention camp until all the asylum seekers held within it are freed.  By David Sheen Many Israelis may support their government's efforts to keep non-Jewish asylum seekers from Africa at bay and beyond the borders of the country. In recent weeks, however, one man has repeatedly provoked prison officials into detaining him, in order to protest the imprisonment of the Africans. Ido Naveh of Jerusalem has been detained at least three times in the last month for maintaining a non-violent vigil outside of Saharonim, Israel’s desert detention…

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  • Despite landmark High Court ruling, asylum seekers are only cautiously optimistic

    Monday's High Court ruling provided a major blow to the state's attempt to hold asylum seekers in detention. However, despite the decision, asylum seekers are still not entitled to basic benefits such as health insurance, social services, housing and the freedom to work. By Elizabeth Tsurkov Refugees in Israel reacted with delight to the news of the nixing of the Anti-Infiltration Law by the High Court of Justice. Under the law, nearly 1,700 asylum-seekers, most of them Eritreans, are currently detained under the law in either the Saharonim or Ktziot internment camps in the Negev. All asylum seekers who entered Israel…

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  • Israel's High Court nixes law allowing detention of asylum seekers without trial

    Court orders the state to begin releasing more than 1,700 prisoners immediately. In a landmark ruling, a special nine-justice panel of the High Court of Justice decided to strike down the amendment to Israel’s infamous anti-infiltration bill, which allowed the state to hold African asylum seekers in custody, without trial, for three years (and in some cases – indefinitely). The court’s unanimous decision was that the bill contradicts Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. The amendment in the bill allowing the state to hold without trial any person who entered the country illegally was deemed “disproportionate” to the challenge…

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  • Eritrean asylum seekers on hunger strike to protest detention without trial

    Asylum seekers return meals for fifth straight day in protest of administrative detention, NGOs report. (Updated below) Some 350 Eritrean asylum seekers are in the fifth day of a hunger strike protesting their administrative detention in an Israeli prison. Asylum seekers in Block 3 of the Saharonim detention facility began a hunger strike on Saturday June 22, according to the Hotline for Migrant Workers and Physicians for Human Rights. A day later, detainees in Block 4 began returning their meals as well. Nearly 2,000 African asylum seekers are being held in Israeli prison facilities under the Anti-Infiltration Law, passed last…

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  • For asylum seekers in Israel, the police is the judiciary

    A new government regulation enables the indefinite incarceration of refugees suspected of committing crimes, even if there is not enough evidence to indict them. Were this regulation applied to Israeli politicians, many of them would be in prison. By Asaf Weitzen The upcoming elections will affect not only the lives of Israeli citizens, they will also affect the fates of more than 60,000 African immigrants living here. Ignorance regarding the circumstances of their arrival to Israel, along with fear and rare bureaucratic creativity, have led to a series of laws and regulations depriving them of their most basic legal protections, which…

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  • PHOTO ESSAY: A sprawling desert prison, for thousands of refugees

    On Thursday, I traveled to the south with a group of journalists and bloggers to view the construction of new detention facilities around Ketsiot, near the Egyptian border. When completed, the four prisons in the area are meant to be able to hold more than 16,000 inmates, making them, together, the largest detention facility for immigrants in the West. The trip was organized by ASSAF - Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel, with the participation of Physicians for Human Rights, the Hotline for Migrant Workers and Amnesty International. Aid workers and reporters are not allowed into the…

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