Interior Minister Eli Yishai's
plan to detain Sudanese
asylum seekers is facing delays, as it yet to be approved by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, the Population and Immigration Authority said.
The campaign was set to be launched on October 15 but the Justice Ministry is still debating the issue.
Meanwhile, Yishai expressed hope Wednesday that the migrants would leave of their own volition.
Seven human rights groups petitioned
the Jerusalem District Court last week to block Yishai's plan, which facilitates the incarceration of 15,000 Sudanese migrants.
The detention facilities (Photo: Herzl Yosef)
The groups branded the interior minister's intention to detain the African migrants in order to "make their lives miserable" as "barbaric" and said it may result in a humanitarian crisis.
Touring the Ketziot region, where border-jumping migrants are jailed, Yishai said that the Defense Ministry is in the final stages of building additional detention compounds that will have the capacity to hold thousands of "infiltrators and migrant workers." He said the new facilities meet international standards.
"We have made sure that the infiltrators who arrive here will be provided with suitable conditions that are not available anywhere else in the world," he said.
The minister claimed that the asylum seekers primarily arrive in Israel
to seek work, not shelter.
"These are not refugees but infiltrators and migrant workers," he said.
He added that the government invested "over a billion shekels" to construct a fence on the border with Egypt
and build the holding facilities, steps he said significantly reduced the number of illegal migrants entering Israel.
Answering reporters' questions, Yishai acknowledged that while international refugee conventions prohibit Israel from deporting Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers, he hopes that "they would leave in a respectable manner."
"The intention is to restore the Israeli citizens' personal safety," he said.
According to Defense Ministry Deputy Director-General Bezalel Traiber, a new detention compound, dubbed "Sadot" is made up of caravans and is expected to be completed by the end of December. The camp, which can be inhabited by 3,000 migrants, has water and sewage infrastructure. Each detainee will be allotted 4.5 meters of space with a bathroom and shower attached. Cultural sites and medical services will also be provided, Traiber said.
Aside from the Sadot facility, two other jails are located in the Ketziot region – Ketziot Prison, which has the capacity to hold 2,400 detainees, and Saharonim Prison, which has 3,000 additional spots.
Facilites for 4,000 additional detainees are in the works.