The High Court has demanded that the state release hundreds of illegal African migrant workers from an encampment in Israel's Negev – but that doesn't mean that the illegals will be able to return to their old “haunts.” The state intends to issue temporary permits for the illegals to remain in Israel – but they will not be allowed to enter Tel Aviv or Eilat, where the vast majority of them were arrested.
After the court decided that illegal infiltrators who had been in the Holot camp for more than a year be released, Interior Minister Silvan Shalom signed the orders preventing the illegals from returning to the neighborhoods where they lived previously. Some 1,200 illegals are expected to be released on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
It's not clear where the illegals will go; Tel Aviv and Eilat offer the largest support systems for the migrants, but there are communities of Africans, legal and otherwise, in the suburbs of Tel Aviv and in other smaller cities, such as Arad. Many residents of south Tel Aviv have long complained of the large presence of Africans in their communities, saying that their personal safety has been compromised as young Africans verbally abuse, rob, and physically harm them.
This is the second time the law on the status of illegal Africans, known as the Infiltrators Law, has been challenged by the High Court. The version of the Infiltrator Law that was discussed by the court was approved on the last day of the 19th Knesset's term. Approved by 43 MKs against 20, it states that illegal infiltrators may be detained at the Saharonim jail for up to three months (instead of a year in the earlier version of the law), after which they are to be transferred to the open facility in Holot. They can be held in the open facility for a maximum of 20 months, instead of one year in the previous version, and can only be made to report to the facility once a day, at the end of the day, instead of three times a day in the previous version of the law.
The Infiltrator Law was revived in November, after key elements were shot down several months earlier by the High Court for Justice.
The law specifies that the state will try to ensure that asylum seekers leave the country in several ways. With the approval of the law, employers will be required to deposit a monthly fee for employing asylum seekers, at the expense of severance pay. Each asylum seeker working in Israel will also be required to deposit money from his/her own paycheck, which he/she will receive only upon leaving Israel.
Various versions of the law have been shot down by the court in recent years in response to motions filed by leftist groups. These judicial decisions have sparked intense frustration among nationalists, who see them as an undemocratic form of intervention by judges in the Knesset's decisions.