Hundreds of African migrants marched out of the Holot detention facility in Israel’s Negev Desert Friday, and began a trek toward the Israeli-Egyptian border in an apparent attempt to exit the country.
The migrants were headed to the Nitzana border crossing. IDF soldiers and police forces were stationed at the crossing in order to prevent the migrants from exiting the country illegally for Egypt.
The march was organized in protest of the Israeli government’s policy of holding illegal African migrants for long periods at the Holot facility.
The protesters also cited Israeli authorities failure to determine whether the migrants qualified for refugee status or not.
In recent months, detainees at Holot, mostly asylum-seekers from Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia, have stepped up demonstrations against Israel’s migrant policies.
The government, however, has said that it does not plan to change its policies toward migrants and insists that most of them are illegal migrants who have come to Israel seeking to work, not true asylum-seekers.
Holot, which opened last year as a facility to hold the migrants pending their deportation, houses 2,400 people. Migrants are sent there by order of Israel’s Interior Ministry.
Over the past week-and-a-half, 2,000 of the Holot detainees choose not to report to authorities at Holot, despite being required to do so three times a day, Haaretz reported.