Israel began releasing hundreds of African asylum seekers Tuesday from a remote detention center in southern Israel, after a Supreme Court ruling earlier this month ordered the release of those held for more than a year. But the release is bittersweet for many of 1,178 refugees and economic migrants affected by the ruling who now find themselves under pressure to find food, shelter and medical care.
Since it passed an “anti-infiltration” law in 2012, Israel has sent 1,700 asylum seekers to the Holot facility, deep in Israel’s Negev desert. They are permitted to come and go, but must sign in several times a day and sleep there, making it impossible to stray far from the remote facility or hold jobs. Those who violate the rules, or reject orders to report there, can be sent to a nearby prison.
While the Supreme Court upheld the law, it ruled that migrants held at Holot for more than 12 months must be freed and overturned a provision of a law that would have allowed illegal immigrants to be held for up to 20 months without trial.