WASHINGTON (JTA) — An array of U.S. Jewish groups urged Israel’s government to introduce refugee asylum reforms, saying that a major holding facility was indistinguishable from a jail.
The letter sent Wednesday to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that Israeli authorities have ordered asylum seekers to move to the Holot facility in Israel’s south.
“While officially labeled as an ‘open’ reception facility, recent accounts suggest that Holot is virtually indistinguishable from a minimum security prison, where residents may be held indefinitely without judicial review,” said the letter spearheaded by Ameinu and signed by another 14 groups.
“Such indefinite detention stands in contrast with the September 2013 ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice,” it said.
The letter, signed by leaders of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the American Jewish Committee, the New Israel Fund and the Reconstructionist movement, also called for improvements to Israel’s asylum approval rate, noting Israel has one of the lowest in the world.
“Such steps would reinforce Israel’s proud reputation as a country built by Jewish refugees and governed by Jewish, democratic and universal values,” it said.