Israel to Hold Migrants in Closed Detention Center, Despite Pledging Otherwise

New Prisons Service facility in the south will be more spacious than a regular jail, but the government had resolved to look into making an open compound.

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Despite statements to the contrary, the facility the government plans to build in the south for the purpose of housing asylum seekers will be a closed compound, a document prepared for the National Planning and Building Council and obtained by Haaretz reveals.

After the government decided in November to build the facility, an interministerial team, headed by the deputy director general of the Prime Minister's Office, was commissioned to submit recommendations on the matter.

Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv displaying their UN refugee registration cards.Credit: Natan Dvir

The document, prepared by planning experts Shlomit Dotan-Gissen and Tomer Gothelf, indicates that the compound will be operated as a closed facility, though it will not resemble a prison, as it will be spacious and provide more amenities.

The document notes that the government had, indeed, resolved to set up an open facility. "However, the very fact that it is charging the Prison Service, which specializes in operating prisons, with running the facility indicates that the government intends to operate the facility as a closed compound, once the legislative amendments are complete," according to the document.

The document notes that in a closed compound, asylum seekers would not be permitted to leave without the authorization of the facility's supervisors, although they would be allowed to move about within the different areas of the compound and between the living quarters and public areas.

According to the document, asylum seekers in a closed compound would still be able to move in and out of the compound in a controlled and supervised manner.

The document discloses that the facility is intended to house 7,000 asylum seekers and would be operated by a staff of 1,000-1,5000. The facility would provide the asylum seekers with basic needs, such as housing, food, hygiene, health services, and perhaps even recreational and religious services, education and professional training.

Gissen and Gothelf recommend that the facility be built next to the Ketziot military prison because of its isolation from populated areas and because the operational benefits that could be reaped from setting it up next to an already operating prison.

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