JERUSALEM — Israel began releasing hundreds of African migrants and asylum seekers from a detention center in the southern Negev desert on Tuesday, in line with a recent Supreme Court ruling that reduced the time they could be held there to 12 months from 20 months.
Sivan Weizman, a spokeswoman for the Israel Prison Service, said that 1,178 of the 1,750 people being held in the center would be released by Wednesday. The center is called Holot — Hebrew for sands — and is open by day and locked at night. Detainees have to attend roll call three times a day, a provision meant to prevent them from working outside.
About 45,000 migrants and asylum seekers are currently in Israel, Interior Minister Silvan Shalom said. Most are from Sudan and Eritrea, and they crossed the border from Egypt surreptitiously. The easing of the terms of detention is only the latest round in a long-running political and legal struggle over their fate.
Mr. Shalom said Tuesday that he would soon push for legislation to expedite their deportation and that the authorities were already “working on refilling Holot.”
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(via NY Times)