The 130-strong march left the Holot detention facility for Beersheba Thursday, accompanied by police cars. The march eventually deteriorated and violent clashes with the police, as well as more then a dozen arrests, were reported.
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According to the asylum seekers, the protest was intended to demand the release of two of their compatriots who were arrested in a Jerusalem protest some two days ago. They further called from their asylum requests be reviewed individually.
Abdul, a Sudanese asylum seeker, said "we are marching for our friends, for our freedom and for our rights. We request that the Israeli government examine our request individually, and treat us as refugees, not criminals."
The two men whose arrest sparked Thursday's demonstration are currently being held in the Saharonim Prison, a jail built to house asylum seekers held under directives which the High Court deemed unconstitutional.
The demonstration's starting point – the Holot detention facility – was established as a response to the ruling and thus was built as an 'open jail,' from which asylum seekers can come and go during day time.
According to the Israel Prison Service, the Holot facility currently houses 278 of the 330 asylum seekers expected to spend their nights there after the 130 people who participated in the march were transferred to the Saharonim prison.
According to new directives, those housed in the 'open' Holot facility must check in twice a day and spend the night. Once a person fails to check in for more than 48-hours they are considered in offences and can thus be lawfully transferred to the Saharonim Prison.
Thursday it was revealed that contrary to original reports, some 300 people were arrested after also participating in a demonstration early this week with more than half being transferred to Saharonim – more than was initially reported.
The cost of the Holot facility was roughly a million shekel and in light of the court's ruling and recent events, it seems the State is adamant in its intent to deport asylum seekers who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Matan Tzuri also contributed to this report
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