Israel’s Perspective on Holot

Towards the end of February 2017, Barnabas Fund posted an article about the plight of Eritreans in the Holot Detention Centre in Israel. Several Christian ministries made further enquiries about it and received the following response from an Israeli Government department.

‘The Holot open facility, although operated by the Israel Police Services, is governed by specific provision of the Prevention of Infiltration Law. It is not a prison, and regular prison rules and regulations do not apply to it.

All personal and basic needs of the irregular migrant who stay in the Holot facility are met. Residents are provided a bed, clothes, clear towels, food, medical and social care. The living quarters include showers and toilets, and a public building containing clubhouses, dining halls, and classrooms. Each resident has enough living space. All living quarters and public buildings are also air-conditioned.

Educational and leisure activities are organized for the residents of the facility including classes in English language, mathematics, art, ceramics and sport. There are televisions at the residents` disposal and there are telephones available to facilitate their contact with their relatives. Additionally, the facility provides laundry services, a library, a computer room, recreational areas and more. Residents have the ability to obtain professional training in the areas of hairdressing, gardening and construction.

The Israel Prison Service is responsible for all needs of the facility residents, from education services provided by the Ministry of Education teachers, to recreational classes given by the education officer under Israel Prison Services supervision. The facility`s social services are provided by nine (9) social workers, who conduct weekly private sessions, and group sessions for several groups each week.

The facility is open from 06:00 to 22:00 and there are no limitations placed on resident who wish to enter or exit the center during those hours. Residents must report to the open facility only once a day, at 22:00. At night, the facility is closed and all the resident must remain inside. The residents are not confined to their rooms and they are free to wander around the facility as they please, as long as they do not disturb other residents or disrupt public order.

The capacity of the facility is 3,300 and since the beginning of 2016, the facility is at full capacity.

The drive from the Holot open facility to the city of Beer-Sheva takes less than an hour, and there are 14 buses a day taking resident back and forth. Each person in the facility is entitled to a monthly allowance of 480 NIS. At full capacity this allowance amounts to an average of 1.6 million NIS, approx. 425,000 US dollars a month.

NGO`s are permitted to enter the Holot facility freely, without any restrictions or limitations whatsoever. These organizations even receive assistance locating residents and obtaining information about the facility. In addition, inquiries by organizations regarding specific incidents that require clarification or any form of assistance are handled immediately and effectively.

UNHCR visit the Holot facility on a periodic basis in coordination with the facility.’