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The Israel Prison Service warned Friday that it would be unable to accomodate the growing number of detained Sudanese refugees, since facilities designated specifically for their absorption are nearly filled to capacity.

Prison officials said that, at the current influx rate of refugees entering Israel, all available space would be filled by next week.

The statement comes on the heels of an incident early Thursday in which the Israel Defense Forces deserted a group of 15 Sudanese refugees on the Be'er Sheva-Dimona Highway. The army had been transporting the refugees to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva for medical treatment.

The refugees were then spotted by a family in Ar'ara, and four of them - all men without families - found work in the Arad area. Three refugee families were taken to Eilat.

The IDF issued a response saying that the refugees were deserted because no authorized institution had agreed to accept them. They were initially to be given shelter in the Ketziot Prison, but the soldiers were informed the prison did not have room to accomodate them.

Prison officials replied that 950 Sudanese refugees are currently being cared for in Ketziot Prison, and they are unaware of anyone denying an IDF request to house additional refugees.