Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

Arrest and Detention

The effects of the Anti-infiltration law and detention at ‘Holot’ on the asylum seeker community in Israel

The negative impact of the new policy, mainly operating Holot facility, manifests in several levels and affects the entire Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seeker community. Since the government policy has worsened, operating of the Holot facility and cutting of Interior Ministry offices’ operations, one can recognize a new trend of extreme despair and helplessness among community members. Many express uncertainty and anxiety about the future, as well as an inability to control and affect the course of their lives.

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, New Anti-Infiltration Law Amendment Detains Asylum Seekers Indefinitely

December 17th, 2013

Two months after the High Court struck down an amendment that allowed Israel to imprison asylum seekers for up to three years without trial, the Knessethas passed a new amendment, which permits the incarceration of asylum seekers entering Israel for a year without trial, and confinement of old and new asylum seekers in an "open detention facility" for an unlimited period of time. 

This "open detention facility" is in fact a prison run by the Israeli Prison Service, in a remote and isolated part of the Negev desert. Asylum seekers held there are required to present themselves for a count three times a day, and the facility is completely closed at night. Detainees are not permitted to work outside of the center. 

The government will spend 440 million NIS per year to facilitate this program – money that would be better spent on improved infrastructure and services in south Tel Aviv. A new detention center will surely not alleviate the misery of the 53,000 asylum seekers who are not currently living in jail, nor improve the lives of Israeli residents of south Tel Aviv. 

For further read on the amendment and on ASSAF's position

ASSAF and other human rights organisations have filed an urgent petition to the Supreme Court on December 15th 2013, demanding to immediately cancel the fourth ammendment to this law. In the petition, the organisations clarify that not only  does the new amendment not follow the principles delineated by Supreme Court judges in their previous ruling regarding this law, it is also a more severe arrangement than its predecessor. The organisations call for an urgent sitting on this regard and demand an interim order that will delay the further transfers of asylum seekers to the Holot Detention Facility. 

The Legal Battle against the Detention of Asylum-Seekers and Refugees
Action against the Establishment of a Detention Installation in the Negev


Assaf is a co-submitter of a document detailing the objections to the establishment of the  detention installation being constructed at Ketziot. Assaf supplied psycho-social perspective andbackground  information. The document was submitted to the National Committee on Planning and Construction by Assaf and the following organizations: The Civil Rights Association, the Hotline for Migrant Workers, Amnesty International-Israel and Physicians for Human Rights.

Detention of Children of Asylum-Seekers and Unaccompanied Minors


Their age notwithstanding, minor asylum-seekers are imprisoned in detention facilities for lengthy periods without purpose and under very poor conditions. The lengthy detention and the harsh conditions cause great suffering to these children. In 2011, together with the Hotline for Migrant Workers and ACRI, we submitted a letter to the Knesset Migrant Workers Committee, calling for the immediate release of these boys and girls from incarceration and for the government to find alternative solutions for them.

Detention of Victims of Human Trafficking and Torture

The cruel practice of human trafficking has evolved in Sinai over the past few years and hundreds of asylum-seekers making their way to Israel fall victim to kidnapping, torture and rape. In 2011, together with Amnesty International-Israel we composed and distributed  a position paper against the detention of victims of trafficking in the vast installation in the Negev. We argued that lengthy detention of victims of human trafficking and torture is immoral and deeply injurious to them both emotionally and physically. We presented the paper to the Knesset Sub-committee on Trafficking in Women.