Justice Minister MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) remains undeterred by the High Court for Justice's amendment of the Infiltrator Law – and is reportedly seeking to implement it to full force.
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 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.
On Tuesday, the High Court partially rejected a motion to strike down the law from leftist organizations, but did amend the original text: now, infiltrators can only be held for a maximum of 12 months. In addition, any infiltrators who have been in detention facilities for more than a year will be released within 15 days.
The original incarnation of the law technically allows for infiltrators to face five years' imprisonment, according to Walla! News, and Shaked has turned to the Justice Ministry to enforce the rule at full force. If successful, indictments would be issued against infiltrators as well. At this stage, the intention is to apply the law against infiltrators who entered Israel in recent months.
Shaked is expected to face difficulty in fully implementing the controversial law, however – not only via open opposition from human rights groups, but from legal difficulties within the justice system itself.
For example, to fully implement a sentence against an infiltrator, a judge must sentence the defendant to be held in police custody until trial – but such rulings are rare, and it is unlikely for judges to order such a sentence until the end of legal proceedings.
Recent statistics suggest that infiltration in Israel is on the rise again, after 15 illegal immigrants jumped the Sinai security fence built to stop them in one weekend earlier this month. At least 55 Eritrean infiltrators were estimated to have entered Israel between January and June 2015, significantly higher than infiltration during that period in 2013 and 2014.