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saharonim

  • 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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  • Eritrean asylum seeker details recent hunger strike, fear of indefinite incarceration

    Some 500 asylum seekers held in a prison in the desert recently refused food in protest of a new law that enables Israel to keep them in detention indefinitely. By Sharon Livne "Don't tell anyone my name, I'm afraid of what they'll do to me here if they know I talked." So began a nighttime telephone call with C., age 23, who has been incarcerated for 11 months  in the Saharonim prison in the Negev. According to C., the Eritrean detainees in Saharonim began a hunger strike in protest of their imprisonment for a minimum of three years, in accordance…

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  • Abducted from Sudan, tortured in Sinai: Mother and child languish in Israeli jail

    After facing brutal treatment at the hands of Sinai smugglers, an Eritrean mother and her baby daughter - who did not intend to go to Israel - have found themselves victim to Israeli policy, despite not having done a thing to deserve such a fate. By Anat Ben-Dor There are things one can do only when no one else is looking. Detaining a baby girl a year and three months old for a period of three years, for instance. We met Ambat* yesterday in Saharonim prison - an active child, she was dressed in red and was held in her mother's…

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  • Testimonies: Israelis tear-gassed pleading asylum seekers, dragged them to Egypt

    Contrary to Israeli statements suggesting that 18 starved Eritrean agreed to go back to Egypt, the survivors tell lawyers their comrades were forcibly dragged away from the fence, despite begging to be killed rather than returned to Egypt. The refugees reported they were previously tear gassed, pushed away with metal rods and denied food. The Egyptian soldiers near the border told the group that the men were unwanted but they would take the women of the group and rape them, in addition to the two they were raping already.    The following are excerpts from testimonies given by two women…

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  • Palestinian prisoners, Eritrean refugees: On the outskirts of Israeli law

    In the case of the refugees trapped on the Israeli border, as in the matter of hunger striking prisoner Khader Adnan, Israel's highest court wriggled out of a decision, escaping the shackles of democracy and international law that are supposed to guide its work. Last February, a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail was on the verge of death, more than two months into a hunger strike he had launched in protest of his administrative detention order under Israeli military law. On Sunday, February 19, the High Court of Justice agreed to hear Khader Adnan’s petition against the order – and…

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  • Asylum seekers can now face years in prison over false accusation

    The Prevention of Infiltration Law, which enables asylum seekers to be detained for three years or more without trial, can now be applied to anyone with a 'criminal background.' But what does 'criminal background' mean? It's unclear.  By Elizabeth Tsurkov In early July 2012, the Ministry of Interior and the Israel Police decided to allow asylum seekers with a vaguely defined “criminal background” to be detained under the new Prevention of Infiltration Law. Following the expansion of prisons to hold thousands more migrants, Israel began enforcing the law on June 3. Since then, all newly arrived asylum seekers, including children…

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  • Proposed law would indefinitely jail refugees seeking protection

    Israel was created 64 years ago by refugees and for refugees. But despite its young age, the state seems to suffer from memory loss when it comes to dealing with the refugees who seek its protection today. By Sigal Rozen The Refugee Convention is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The young State of Israel was one of its enthusiastic supporters, hurrying to sign and ratify it, thereby legally binding itself to the convention's principles. During the 60 years that have passed, Israel has not legislated a refugee law, and all attempts made to that effect by Israeli human rights…

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