Hundreds of African migrants who gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Office here this week to protest Israel’s policy of detaining asylum seekers were put on buses back to a detention facility.
The protesters, holding signs reading “I didn’t choose to be a refugee,” “we are in danger, not dangerous” and “you were strangers in the land of Egypt,” launched their demonstration on Tuesday after leaving the Holot detention facility a day earlier.
Police and government officials had threatened to arrest the protesters if they caused disturbances. At the end of the demonstration they were forced by immigration officials on buses taking them back to the detention facility.
About 150 of the migrants had spent Monday night at Kibbutz Nachshon near Jerusalem, where they were provided with food and clothing after walking from the Holot facility in the Negev Desert to Beersheva. Volunteers had brought them to the kibbutz after immigration officials refused to allow the migrants to board buses for Jerusalem.
The Holot residence is called an “open facility,” with detainees free to leave during the day and with mandatory check-in at night. They are not allowed to hold jobs.
Nearly 350 of the facility’s 484 residents, who were transferred there late last week, have not returned to the detention center in recent days, Haaretz reported.