African Asylum Seeker Stays Positive in Israeli Detention Facility

Hassan Shakur Hopes To Go Home to Darfur

Down But Not Out: Hassan Shakur.
Daniel Bar-On/Haaretz
Down But Not Out: Hassan Shakur.

By Eetta Prince-Gibson

Published March 03, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 5 of 5)

Freeze on summonses

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Israel, Walpurga Englbrecht, has publicly stated that the process of indefinite detention in Holot does not comply with the norms of international human rights.

On February 20, Haaretz reported that Israeli courts have cancelled summonses of African asylum seekers to the Holot detention facility and frozen others until appeals can be heard against them. The courts have also cited serious, fundamental problems in the call-up process.

The government has replied to petitions on behalf of asylum seekers by stating that it does not see a need to hold hearings before ordering them to go to the Holot facility, because no violation of their rights is involved.

Israeli officials do acknowledge that instead of organizing outright deportations, Holot is one of the means being used to convince asylum seekers to leave “voluntarily” – along with cash incentives.

One official in the Population and Immigration Authority, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk to reporters, tells Haaretz: “Israeli policy is clear. As the Jewish state, we cannot allow unlimited numbers of infiltrators to settle here. Most of them are economic migrants. In accordance with international law and our own standards as the Jewish people, we will treat these people humanely and decently, and respect their human rights.”

Last week, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced that a record 1,705 African asylum seekers left Israel in February. According to Sa’ar, this is proof that the Africans are coming to Israel for economic reasons and that the majority face no dangers in their native countries and that Israeli policies of encouraging them to leave is succeeding.Reporters are not allowed into Holot, although they can talk with the prisoners through the chain-link, razor-wire-topped fences, or by phone. In recent media reports, detainees have complained of inadequate food, a lack of heat, and numbing, debilitating boredom and despair.

“This is like being in prison in our homelands,” some detainees have told reporters.

An officer of the prison service, who also does not want to be identified, says in response that “we don’t think of these people as criminals, but this is the prison service … We will be as lenient as we can. Some of the detainees’ complaints are valid – the food isn’t great, and I myself don’t know why we take away their laptops. I hope that things will be smoothed out – after all, we only opened Holot about two months ago – and that the situation will improve.”

Shakur continues to be positive. In a recent SMS he writes, “I am fine. Please don’t worry about me. Everything is going well. I have all the time in the world – so I am able to study.”

For more stories, go to Haaretz.com or to subscribe to Haaretz, click here and use the following promotional code for Forward readers: FWD13.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.