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State ratifies amendment to Prevention of Infiltration Law
Following High Court ruling that law is unconstitutional, State okays amendment to reduce time of detention without trial from three years to one, reallocate funds for construction of new detention facility, more officers

The cabinet unanimously ratified on Sunday the amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law.

 

According to the amendment, the maximum amount of time an asylum seeker can be held in detention without trial is a year (compared to three years before the amendment), some 550 additional officers will be added to anti-infiltration enforcement, and the financial compensation for migrants who would return to their home countries of their own accord be increased to $3,500 (compared to $1,500 before the amendment).

 

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The proposal was devised following the High Court ruling that the Prevention of Infiltration Law (according to which the State could detain asylum seekers who entered Israel without permit for up to three years without trial) was unconstitutional.

 

The Knesset is slated to bring the new amendment to a first reading on Monday.

 

According to the new formulation, NIS 145 million would be cut from government ministries and reallocated to support the new bill and an additional NIS 100 million would be cut fro the State budget in favor of the new facility.

 

The Defense Ministry, the document states, will be in charge of the facility's construction and upon completion it will be operated by the Israeli Prison Service.

 

The facility's construction is set to be completed by February 2014, and will be able to house some 3,300 migrants.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We are determined to deport the tens of thousands of illegal migrants who are here after having reduced to zero the number of illegal labor migrants who enter Israel's cities.

 

"The steps that we unanimously approved today are proportionate and necessary for maintaining the Jewish and democratic character of the state, and to restore Israeli citizens' security while following High Court guidelines and international law" he said.

 

"The new decisions include combined actions designed to encourage illegal migrants to leave Israel and return to their countries of origin, increase personal security for residents of Israel and reduce the presence of migrants in city centers," the premier's office said.

 

Human rights groups said the majority of the African migrants in Israel cannot be deported because of threats to their lives in their homelands of Sudan and Eritrea.

  

According to Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, "The current outline sets out the battle against illegal infiltration into the State of Israel." The minister said the State must defend its "interests and citizens."

 

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said the bolstering enforcement, which the amendment also proposes, would "help improve the personal safety and sense of security of citizens."

 

According to Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) data, there are some 53,000 asylum seekers in Israel.

 

AFP contributed to this report

 

 

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