Human rights organizations in Israel are reacting furiously to the news that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will carry out an election promise which they thought was years off.
In all, Israel will soon be returning some 40,000 African refugees kept in the Holot Detention Center to their respective countries of origin.
By building a wall and adding legislation to its immigration policy, Israel had, according to Netanyahu, already basically stopped refugees from entering their country. Now, thanks to the cooperation with other political parties, the Israeli government will also deport migrants at an increased pace.
Prime Minister Netanyahu: “this can be carried out thanks to an international agreement which I obtained which allows us to deport the 40,000 remaining infiltrators against their will.”
“This is very important. This will allow us to empty the Holot Detention Center in the future and to redirect portions of the large resources we are using there.”
Various human rights organizations, including The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Amnesty International Israel, Kav LaOved, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and the African Refugee Development Center responded to the announcement by slamming the initiative.
They accuse the Netanyahu government of violating its international obligations: “The Holot detention center, an isolated prison that was meant to make asylum seekers’ lives miserable, should have been forbidden in the first place. From the words of Minister Erdan it is clear that the government was lying to the High Court when they denied that the purpose of Holot was to make asylum seekers leave Israel.”
The UN Refugee Agency also expressed their concern over the proposal of the Israeli government:
"Due to the secrecy surrounding this policy and the lack of transparency concerning its implementation, it has been very difficult for UNHCR to follow up and systematically monitor the situation of people relocated to these African countries. UNHCR, however, is concerned that these persons have not found adequate safety or a durable solution to their plight and that many have subsequently attempted dangerous onward movements within Africa or to Europe."