Israel approves African migrant detention camp


ISRAEL WILL build a massive detention facility in its southern Negev desert for thousands of migrants from Africa who have crossed into the country seeking work.

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting that the move was a humane gesture designed to provide the illegal “infiltrators” with food, shelter and medical care until they could be deported. “We do not intend to arrest refugees from war.

“We allow them to enter and will continue to do so. But we must stop the mass entry of illegal infiltrators who are looking for work due to the very harsh repercussions that this wave will have on the character and future of the state of Israel.,” he said.

Many Africans seeking a better future now prefer to risk the land-crossing into Israel, via the Egyptian Sinai, rather than the treacherous sea journey to European destinations. Earlier this month, Israel began constructing a fence along its border with Egypt in an effort to keep out the African migrants, who have swelled to more than 34,000.

Mr Netanyahu said the open detention facility, which will be completed within six months, will resemble similar centres built for migrants in Spain, Italy and Holland.

Human rights groups condemned the government decision saying it would do nothing to stem the tide of refugees. Doctors Without Borders issued a statement warning that the new facility would damage the physical and mental health of the migrants.

“That victims of torture, rape, war and genocide are to be imprisoned indefinitely, without the supervision of a judicial authority and against the international treaty on the protection of refugees is a stain of shame on the state of Israel.”

But interior minister Eli Yishai warned that if action was not taken, the tens of thousands of immigrants would eventually reach a million and threaten Israel’s Jewish majority. He said only a tiny proportion were genuine refugees. “We must stop people who have no place here, clarify that there is no work here and send them all back,” he said.