“Infiltration Bill” Passes First Reading without Debate

Photo by Trillia Fidei Bagwell

On the last day of the Knesset winter seat (March 30), the Knesset approved in a first reading a new bill outlining the detention, sentencing and imprisonment of persons who enter Israel illegally, and for those in Israel who assist them. ACRI and Hotline for Migrant Workers: “This is a draconian and immoral bill, through which the State of Israel shakes its obligations towards refugees and asylum seekers. A democratic country should not propose such bills, let alone approve them in the last minute, without comprehensive discussion.”
According to the new bill, asylum seekers and their children who cross over into Israel through the Israel-Egypt border could be arrested for a period of three years, and not 60 days (as the present Entry Law to Israel stipulates). The new bill also extends the detention time period after which the asylum seeker can appear before a judge from 96 hours to 14 days. Periodic inspections of the remanded will be conducted not once a month as is set by the Entry law, but rather once every two months.
Asylum seekers whose origin poses a security threat to Israel according to the opinion of the security establishment (for example, the Darfur region in Sudan) will be held in detention, together with their children, unendingly, even under extenuating humanitarian circumstances, and even if the asylum seeker himself was never involved in security operations.
The bill is an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law – 1954, which was originally intended for dealing with security threats posed by Arab infiltrators, and its implementation was dependent on the official “State of Emergency” status set by the government. The amendment proposes to cancel this dependency so that the bill will stay in effect even if the State of Emergency is canceled. However, it does not annul the strict penalties and directives set by the current law allegedly needed to confront a state of emergency. Any person who is not a resident or citizen of Israel and who had not entered the country via an official border crossing will be considered an “infiltrator” and be subject to those penalties and directives.
The announcement of the new bill came two days before the Knesset recess and without allowing for public hearings on the new legislative initiative.  An already drafted bill was pulled in July 2010 due to harsh public criticism. If the new proposed bill is passed, it could be possible to charge asylum seekers with a criminal offence and sentence them to up to five years imprisonment. Those who aid in the migrant’s “infiltration” or provide him or her shelter can be sentenced for up to 15 years.
ACRI attorney Oded Feller: “It is undisputable that Israel, like any other country, has a right to set clear regulations as to whom is allowed entry into the country, and has a right to monitor its borders and those who pass through them. Nonetheless, as a state that was founded in order to provide a safe haven for Jewish refugees, and which was greatly involved in shaping the 1951 International Convention on Refugees, Israel ought to consider the moral and legal obligations toward refugees, and refrain from punishing and detaining those who seek asylum.”
For further background and to read ACRI’s position: https://law.acri.org.il/en/?p=775

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

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2 Responses to “Infiltration Bill” Passes First Reading without Debate

  1. Pingback: Inside the Imperial Tent Last November « KADAITCHA

  2. daniela כתב:

    Israel has a right to set clear regulations as to whom is allowed entry into the country.