Israel's Immigration Authority Sends Hundreds to New Detention Site

After Knesset authorizes immigration authority to seize and detain migrants, Eritrean refugees holding expired visas say they fear to leave their homes.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

The Population, Immigration and Border Authority detained 75 African migrants on Thursday morning in South Tel Aviv. The authority told Haaretz that it detained the migrants in order to validify their permits, but refused to comment on where the detainees were sent.

In Hadera, the authority received Thursday 250 Sudanese and Eritrean migrants who hoped to have their visas renewed, a procedure which they are required to go through every couple of months. Five of the applicants, whose visas had already expired, were arrested and transported to Saharonim detention facility; the rest were directed to take their application to the Tel Aviv branch of the authority, and only during certain, restrictive hours.

Many migrants have phoned the Refugee Hotline to complain that the authority has been systematically refusing to renew their visas. Those whose visas have already expired said they hardly leave their homes, dreading the authority might catch them.

In the past week, the authority has arrested dozens of migrants, some for carrying invalid visa and others for leaving the Holot center. This follows a new law amendment approved by the Knesset two weeks ago which enables the authority to arrest and imprison detainees from Holot who have been absent from the site for more than 48 hours. All arrested migrants were transferred to Saharonim.

This week the authority announced its plan to require thousands of migrants living in cities, most notably Tel Aviv and Eilat, to register at Holot within 30 days, where they will remain indefinitely.

Holot detention facility was opened a week ago and already holds hundreds of migrants who have been transferred from Saharonim. Detainees in Holot are not permitted to work and are required to register themselves three times a day to account for their movements. They are also forbidden from leaving the camp between 22 P.M. and 6 A.M. The state ensures that detainees will be supplied food, medical and social attention and a monthly allowance of 500 shekels (143$). Operated by the Israel Prison Service, the site can hold, at present, up to a thousand people. Within six weeks it will have the capacity to hold additional 2,300 migrants.

Early last week, Holot detainees staged a march to Jerusalem to protest the conditions of their detention. On Tuesday the authority arrested 300 migrants demonstrating in front of the Knesset, half of whom was taken to Saharonim and the rest returned to Holot. On Thursday, a second, smaller, protest march from Holot was stifled by the authority only several kilometers from the site. Some of them turned themselves in, while many others tried to escape, but were eventually apprehended.

Holot detention center.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage

Flame and smoke rise during an Israeli air strike, amid Israel-Gaza fighting, in Gaza City August 6, 2022.

Israel Should End Gaza Operation Now, if It Can