The Knesset on Monday night passed the first reading of a new amendment to the anti-infiltration law, which would allow the state to hold infiltrators in the Negev’s ”Holot” detention facility for up to 12 months.

In August the Supreme Court ruled that jailing migrants at Holot is constitutional but that the term of up to 20 months is disproportionate. The court ruled that the Knesset must come up with revisions to the bill within six months and temporary limited the length of detention at Holot to 12 months.

The bill’s explanatory notes say, ”Setting a maximum stay of 12 months is in keeping with the court’s ruling and matches the constitutional standard the court adopted in its ruling about the interim period [of detention]. The suggested term … undermines the dignity and freedom of the infiltrator to a lesser extent.”

Approved in first reading: Detention of infiltrators limited to one year

Knesset plenum (archives)

During the debate, Meretz MK Michal Rozin said ”no other country puts refugees in prison. The situation at Holot is intolerable.”

Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon said ”this law is a disgrace. The Holot facility should be shut down. This law is a humanitarian crime and a moral disgrace.”

In response, MK David Bitan of Likud said ”enough of this self-righteousness. We are not against the refugees, but the time has come to deal with the problem. We need to resolve the problem of the residents of south Tel Aviv.”

Twenty MKs supported the amendment in the first reading, while twelve voted against it. The bill will now be transferred to the Internal Affairs Committee, which will prepare it for a final vote in the plenum.