Tens of thousands of African asylum seekers and their supporters protested in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Sunday, demanding better treatment from the Israeli government. The protesters held placards and banners saying «No deportation for asylum seekers», «Freedom!», «Refugees are crying» and chanted statements such as «We are not criminals – we want and need asylum.»
The protest was called «The Freedom Rally» but the police did not allow the protesters to freely march in the streets of the city, restricting them to the pavements and Rabin Square.
Asylum seekers, many of which entered Israel through Egypt, demand that Israel: recognise asylum requests, stop imprisoning refugees in detention facilities and that Israel release those currently detained.
According to the legislation passed on December 10, authorities can detain undocumented migrants for up to a year without trial. It is estimated that Israel hosts around 60,000 asylum seekers from Africa. Recently, Israel opened a new detention centre for asylum seekers in the Negev desert, which is considered one of the largest in the world, with capacity to hold 8,000 people.