Friday, before Passover began, 150 detainees in the Negev’s Holot Detention Center spelled out the words “FREEDOM” and “Freedom for Refugees,” the latter in Hebrew, to raise awareness for the cause of asylum seekers. Passover is also known as the Festival of Freedom.
Sigal Kook Avivi, an Israel human rights activist who lives in the center of the country, was behind the move. “The idea behind this was the thought that we were going to celebrate the holiday of freedom, while we deny the freedom of asylum seekers, in violation of international law and conventions,” she said.
Avivi continued, “Their confinement in Holotis for a purpose that doesn’t gel with the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. The purpose is to bring them to despair and cause them to leave. We’re imprisoning people without trial and for an improper purpose.
“I’m in touch with the refugees in the facility. It’s already the third group. Some of the asylum seekers have been in Israel for a decade. They know the holidays. Most of them today are Eritreans, and most of them devout Christians. They know the Bible stories and know exactly what the Exodus is from slavery to freedom.
“The connection resonates with them because they did not come to Israel as the Promised Land, but rather fled from their country of origin through Egypt via Sinai. They understand that Israel is not their country and they see it as a country of refuge.
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)