Israel closes desert detention center in migrant expulsion plan

Israel has closed a desert detention center for migrants as part of its plan for the mass expulsion of thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese who entered the country illegally, officials said on Thursday. The Holot facility was closed the previous afternoon, ahead of a midnight deadline, immigration authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP. In January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the implementation of the program to remove migrants, giving them a choice between leaving voluntarily or facing indefinite imprisonment with eventual forced expulsion. Since then, some Holot inmates have been transferred to the nearby Saharonim prison. Others who had submitted asylum requests before January 1 were reportedly released pending a decision. According to Haddad, 300 people had been freed after agreeing to leave the Jewish state.