As Israel’s deportation process kicks off, The Holot detention facility is set to close Wednesday night after operating for five years. Detainees who did not submit their asylum requests before January 2018 were summoned to court hearings, after which they will be transferred to Saharonim prison for an indefinite time period.







A protest at Holot detention center

A protest at Holot detention center Photo Credit: Kobi Richter/TPS

The Holot open-air detention center in the Negev is expected to close midnight on Wednesday, as Israel’s authorities are preparing for the process of deporting some 40,000 Africans. The detention center has been operating since 2013 and was nearly shut down several times due Supreme Court rulings claiming it infringed on human rights.  

Detainees who submitted asylum requests before January 2018 are currently not facing deportation, as authorities are still processing their files. However, those who did not submit their requests before that date were summoned to court hearings, after which they are expected to be transferred to Saharonim prison for an indefinite time period. Asylum seekers from Africa slated for deportation have previously said they would rather be imprisoned in Israel than sent to countries such as Rwanda or Uganda.

The government’s deportation plan was met with controversy among the Israeli public. Last month, around 20,000 people took to the streets of Tel Aviv in the biggest anti-deportation demonstration since the plan’s announcement.