Protesting Asylum Seekers Camp Near Egypt Border

After staging mass walk-out from Holot detention center, on second day of protest hundreds of asylum seekers vow not to return until demands are met.

Shirly Seidler
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Asylum seekers near the border with Egypt, June 27, 2014.
Asylum seekers near the border with Egypt, June 27, 2014.Credit: Ilan Assayag
Shirly Seidler

Hundreds of asylum seekers have made camp near the Egypt border on Saturday after staging a walk-out from a detention center in southern Israel on Friday in protest of Israel's immigration policy.

"The Israeli government has failed in fulfilling its international obligations to defend the refugees," the protesting asylum seekers said in a press release, and called on the UN to intervene.

They said they refuse to return to the Holot detention center, and should their demand not be met, they will reattempt to cross the border into Egypt.

According to the asylum seekers, they were met at the border by a UN Refugee Agency representative on Saturday.

On Friday, security forces prevented the group from reaching the border crossing, claiming the asylum seekers were entering a closed military zone. The military plans to send reinforcements in order to evacuate them from the area, and possibly arrest them for trespassing.

"The draconian government plan to make asylum seekers despair and leave 'out of their own will' is apparently working better than they expected," said MK Michal Rosin, who visited the protesting asylum seekers.

"The Holot compound is, for all intents and purposes, a prison where the innocent are incarcerated for life without trial. This isn't how should be refugees treated, this isn't how people should be treated," she said.

Rosin, who chairs the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, urged Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar to engage in a dialogue with the asylum seekers and listen to their claims.

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