Some 200 African asylum seekers and human rights activists protested at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, demanding the Supreme Court to reject the new Infiltration Prevention Law.
The protesters also called on the government to close the Holot and Saharonim detention facilities, carrying signs that said: "Edna Arbel, remember the refugees convention" and "Supreme Court, ensure justice - refugees are not criminals."
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Idris, who arrived in Israel three years ago from Eritrea, said the Israeli government is treating asylum seekers like criminals, and urged the government to acknowledge their rights. "We call the government to close the detention facilities we are sent to and let us stay here until the situation in our native countries improves. We do not intend to stay here forever," he said.
Nadine from Sudan told Ynet about his friends that are being held at the Holot detainee center in difficult conditions, "people are sent there without a hearing and that's illegal. The sanitary conditions are poor. the food is late to arrive and is usually undercooked and inedible. As a result, people become sick. We are refugees and want to be treated like humans."
In September 2013, an extended panel of nine judges ruled that the amendment to the Infiltration Prevention Law, allowing the state to keep the African infiltrators in custody for a period of three years, is unconstitutional. According to the judges, headed by Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, it was unanimously determined that the amendment violates the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty disproportionately. Following the rejection of the amendment, the Knesset was forced to vote on a new amendment to the law.
Ma'ayan Ravid, an activist from south Tel Aviv, demanded that the government changed its priorities. "The slogan 'giving to one on the expense of the other' will not bring justice to south Tel Aviv. Instead of building a prison in the middle of the desert, the government should invest in education and infrastructure."
Ravid said Interior Minster Gideon Sa'ar posted a picture of her on his Facebook page, saying she is instigating the infiltrators describing her as an extreme leftist. Ravid responded by saying that "this act alone suggests his extremity, not mine".
Rabbi Chananel Rosen, co-director of the Yakar community in north Tel Aviv, spoke at the rally: "We hope that the upcoming Passover holiday values affect the Israeli society to come up with a better solution. To put people in prison is the worst solution possible. I assume the situation in Africa is not easy, to say the least, so obviously a more extensive investigation should be conducted to determine who should receive recognition as a refugee."