Accelerated construction of Israeli migrant detention center nder way (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Gili Cohen 06/12/12)
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Dozens of bulldozers have sped up construction of a detention center
for African migrants in Ketziot, near the Egypt-Israel border. The
compound, built by Defense Ministry, is dubbed "Ir Amim" (City of
"We´re building the Sudanese a political asylum," a tractor driver
said. "We´re building roads and structures, setting up a sort of
The government plan to keep migrants away from and out of the cities
was triggered by a recent spate of protests and attacks against
African migrants in Israel, particularly in southern Tel Aviv.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ordered a quick and efficient
response to the question of Israel´s migrants, was shown the plan for
the detention centers in the south last Thursday.
Yet officials say the Ketziot detention center will not be completed
in time to incarcerate the migrants whom the Immigration Police have
been rounding up as of this week. The facility also will not be large
enough to accommodate all the migrants.
The prison facility is initially planned to accommodate some 3,000
inmates. Inmates will stay in shipping containers turned into mobile
homes, which "will be structures, for all intents and purposes, not
crude shipping containers," a ministry official said.
At a later stage, additional structures will be set up for another
"We want to ensure that all the migrants entering Israel will be
placed in the detention center," a Defense Ministry official
said. "The plan is intended to reduce people´s motivation to come to
Israel. They won´t be taken to Tel Aviv in a coach but to a compound
in the south," he said.
The ministry said it expects to complete the facility´s first stage
by the end of the year and begin placing migrants there in November.
However, since an estimated 2,000 migrants enter Israel a month, the
facility will not be sufficient to hold them all, officials said.
A few days ago, the Defense Ministry said it would erect 20,000-
25,000 tents for African migrants at various detention centers by the
end of the year. Ministry officials said each migrant will have a 4.5-
square-meter space, even in the tents.
The tents are to be set up in five different detention centers over
the course of a few months. Once built, the centers will be run by
the Prison Service.
The first tent-city will be built on the ruins of an old army base
several kilometers south of Ketziot. The site already has a cement
foundation suitable for tent floors.
The ministry intends to build another tent city near a permanent
Although thousands of people are to live in the tents, no apparent
sewage system exists there.
The ministry´s engineers, who have been setting up infrastructure
systems in the area, had planned to use vaporization pools as a
temporary sewage system for thousands of migrants. But now, with tens
of thousands of people expected, the government will have to build a
sewage treatment plant in the area. This is expected to take many
People in the area already suffer from an irregular power supply,
some residents told Haaretz. This is expected to be even worse once
an additional "city" is erected among the isolated communities.
Ramat Negev Regional Council head Shmuel Rifman said he objects to
building the tent cities, which the ramshackle infrastructures in the
region - especially the sewage, power and water systems - will not be
able to sustain.
"Setting up a tent city simply looks bad. You take people from south
Tel Aviv, stick them in tents in the middle of the desert, and now
[I´m supposed] to look after them," he said.
"I´m told it´s temporary, but in Israel the transient becomes
permanent. There is no reason Ramat Negev should take all the
failures resulting from years of negligence in dealing with the
migrants," Rifman said. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 06/12/12)
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