Thousands of asylum seekers from Eritrea, North Sudan and elsewhere in Africa marched through the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday to demand asylum from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and resist their placement in camps in the Negev Desert.
The previous Sunday, a group of 150 refugees of conflict left an open-air prison in the Negev called Holot and marched toward Jerusalem, where upon arrival they were arrested by Israeli police.
Since Israel completed the construction of its wall with Egypt this year, asylum seekers stopped entering the country from the Sinai Desert. Currently Israel is home to roughly 50,000 African refugees, mostly from Eritrea and North Sudan. In 2012, the parliament approved the controversial infiltrators law that allows for the detention of all asylum-seekers for three years. However, after an extensive Supreme Court challenge, a new law came into effect on December 10 forcing the refugees into so-called residency centers such as the new Holot facility.
Journalist Max Blumenthal, author of “Goliath,” a critique of the current Israeli government published this year, wrote about the subhuman treatment of refugees in the Negev for TomDispatch.