Update: The marchers are spending the night in a hall at Kibbutz Nachson. They are about 20 miles from Jerusalem. The head of the Knesset Interior Committee, Miri Regev, has said that the detainees would be arrested before they enter Jerusalem.
Update 2: The demonstrators have been arrested and are being returned to the Holot detention center. On Tuesday after arriving in Jerusalem, the detainees and their supporters marched from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office to the Knesset where they demonstrated for a couple of hours before being arrested. According to Ha’aretz (Hebrew), the police used “much force” when taking the refugees to waiting buses.
This horrifying tweet appeared minutes ago (9:30 AM EST) from the Israeli human rights organization which assisted the marchers.
— HRM Israel (@HRMIsrael) December 17, 2013
Here is a riveting video of the Immigration Police arresting about 200 African asylum-seekers. The commentary is basically in English. Some of the demonstrators non-violently resisted. Reports from the scene say that the police used excessive force in making arrests. A member of the Israeli Parliament invited the protesters to make their case at the Knesset. He says that the Knesset agreed to permit them to talk to the members, but the police ignored this.
A group of 150 – 200 African asylum seekers who were detained in a new Israeli Negev facility, Holot, are marching to Jerusalem to demand their right to remain and work in Israel as political refugees. The detainees were not confined to the detention facility during the day, but were required by the authorities to spend nights incarcerated.
The marchers are supported by Israeli activists who are accompanying them during the walk. Also on the scene are officials from the Ministry of Immigration who are not interfering with the march.
The demonstrators, who are mostly Sudanese, began the march on Sunday. The detainees spent part of last night in the Beersheva central bus terminal where they were not allowed to board buses to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, according to reports.
The refugees are carrying signs in Hebrew and English which read, “you were strangers in the land of Egypt,” “refugees not criminals,” and “we are walking for freedom and human rights.”
The marchers were transferred to Holot from the Saharonim facility, where some have been held for as long as two years.
The demonstrators plan to arrive in Jerusalem tomorrow where they will be joined by 50 Eritrean asylum-seekers.
It is about 60 miles from Beersheva to Jerusalem.
The progress of the March For Freedom can be followed on Twitter at #MarchForFreedom and at @HRMIsrael.