Israel refuses to release reports detailing gross negligence at airport detention facility

Israel refuses to release reports detailing gross negligence at airport detention facility
Israel's Population and Immigration Authority has refused to publish full internal audits on the conditions at Yahalom detention facility despite concerning details of inadequate services for detainees.
2 min read
10 January, 2023
Over 40,000 people were processed at the detention centre from 2017 to 2022 [Getty-file photo]

Israel has refused to publish the full inspection reports of an airport detention facility despite worrying details of conditions falling well-below legal standards.  

Israel's Population and Immigration Authority declined requests to release full audits of the Yahalom detention facility at Ben-Gurion Airport, which is used to hold individuals who are denied entry to the country. 

The authority claimed the release of the unredacted reports, from 2018 and 2019, could "violate privacy" when responding to a Freedom of Information request from the Israeli volunteer organisation Hatzlacha, reported Haaretz

However, summaries of the two reports offer alarming details about the lack of basic services available to detainees, prompting NGOs to demand the authority make the reports public. 

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"There is great public interest in the requested information about the authority’s behaviour and the failing found by the comptroller," said Hatzlacha’s legal adviser, Elad Man, as reported by the Israeli news website. 

The facility comptroller David Assulin, who wrote the reports, drew attention to the lack of medicines and other basic services and facilities in his summary versions of the documents.

He also noted that employees were forced to pay out of their own pocket for the detainees' medication. 

The comptroller said some detainees did not receive updates about their situation or the date of their return flight. He also referred to complaints from staff that there were not enough personnel to run the centre adequately. 

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Previously, Israeli NGO The Hotline for Refugee and Migrants has condemned the Population Authority for reports of overcrowding and poor conditions at the facility. 

The Hotline said that based on available data "five of the nine rooms in the facility do not meet requirements set by law and the High Court ruling". 

They also voiced concerns about detainees being separated from their personal belongings and therefore they were unable to contact the outside world. 

Between 2017 and 2022, over 40,000 people were processed at Yahalom detention centre, according to Haaretz.