Critics of Israel´s plan for African migrant tent camp say it will be a ´giant concentration camp´ (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Gili Cohen 06/19/12)
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-Top
The National Building and Planning Council will consider exempting
the construction of refugee camps in the south from almost all
planning regulations on Tuesday. The Defense Ministry has asked the
council to exempt the Israel Defense Forces and the ministry´s
construction division from approval by the local authority and its
construction committee engineer.
The ministry says the move, together with other proposed changes in
the plans for the camps, are intended "to meet the tight schedule to
implement the cabinet´s decision" to build the camp for African
refugees crossing the Egyptian border into Israel.
But the Bimkom planning rights group says the exemption and changes
would create "a huge concentration camp with harsh conditions. The
changes would enable the imprisonment of thousands of people in tents
for three years or more, in difficult physical conditions and extreme
The Building and Planning Council will also consider significant
changes in the national master plan - which does not allow for
placing migrants in tents - to enable the internment of African
migrants in the encampments immediately.
"There´s no time for a planning procedure for the tents," a defense
official said. "Due to the required speed, the only thing we´ll do is
put up tents instead of buildings. In the future the objective is to
house them in buildings."
The ministry proposes putting off the construction of public
buildings required by the master plan such as classrooms, dining
rooms, hair-cutting shops and cantines due to the urgency of
populating the facility.
The original master plan consists of one absorption center for all
the African migrants in the tent cities, including clinics and
offices for interviewing and questioning them. The ministry proposes
changing the facility´s purpose to enable setting up the absorption
center in another compound, probably in September.
The master plan stipulates that due to the sewage problems in the
area, only 6,000 people may be interned in the detention center. The
sewage was to be treated in the Ketziot oxidation pools. Now the
ministry proposes allocating an area for a regional sewage treatment
facility near the oxidation pools, which could take several years to
build. Consequently, the migrants´ detention centers will be
populated long before a proper sewage system is up and running.
The ministry is planning to set up tents for some 5,000 migrants in
the first compound, an area designated for migrants in the master
plan. In another compound, within the Ketziot military base, the
ministry will build a tent infrastructure to accommodate some 4,000
However, ministry sources said the Ketziot area was approved as a
military facility, therefore may not be converted to a migrant
detention facility or for any other use.
The council will therefore ask to change the master plan to allow
for "suitable living conditions and proper planning solutions and
physical infrastructures to meet with all the requirements."
The ministry´s proposal calls for examining hooking up the sewage in
the compound to a treatment plant and providing temporary sewage
solutions in the meantime, to enable interning the migrants
The ministry said: "The proposed plan is based on the master plan the
council and cabinet approved at the beginning of the year. Contrary
to your claim, no significant changes were made in the proposed
plan. ... The plan includes an advanced sewage treatment
facility. ... The detention centers are an immediate need which may
not be delayed. ... The ministry is acting on the prime minister´s
instructions to complete the emergency plan as scheduled and within
the law." (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 06/19/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY