Detention of infiltrators will be limited to 12 months

Following a heated debate, the Knesset approved the amendment to the Infiltration Law today, according to which infiltrators can only be held at the Holot detention center for a maximum of 12 months, as opposed to 20 months, as was determined in the law that was rejected by Israel’s High Court of Justice.

The new amendment was passed by a vote of 55 in favor and 32 against, a week after the Knesset Interior and Environmental Affairs Committee approved it by a vote of 8 to 5.

Repeated versions of the anti-infiltration law have been struck down by the court in recent years, due to questions regarding the legality of jailing ‘asylum seekers’ and over how long they should be held.

Most of Israel’s more than 40,000 African infiltrators hail from Eritrea and Sudan, two countries known for human rights abuses and where infiltrators could face persecution if they were deported home from Israel.

A group of Israeli human rights organizations issued a joint press release on Monday saying that “for the fourth time, the Knesset approved a failed policy that helps no one, and wastes the taxpayers’ money. Taking away a year of an asylum-seekers’ life, sending them to Holot Detention Center and forcing them to start their life from scratch when they are released, continues to violate their rights and also continues to deepen the misery in South Tel Aviv and elsewhere.”

Last week, the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration at the Interior Ministry published a report, according to which the year of 2015 saw a substantial increase in the number of infiltrators caught on the Israeli border – 220, as compared to 21 the year before. However, the number of infiltrators who reside in Israel has dropped by 3,400, as many have allegedly left Israel of their own will – but this number too has decreased in half between 2014 to 2015.