“This is the first time I’m really seeing Israel - I’ve been locked up since I got here a year and a half ago”
I have been here for a year and a half, but this is the first time I am really seeing Israel. Since my arrival, I have been locked up in the middle of the Negev desert. Last Thursday, we were forced to sign a document written in Hebrew, which none of us understand. They told us that these were our release papers, but they drove us straight to Holot.Holot is locked at night, and you have to be present to sign in three times during the day. It’s in the middle of the desert, and the nearest town is an hour and a half away by car, so in practice you can’t really go anywhere. We were all very angry, because this felt like cheating. It’s just another prison. We went on a hunger strike, but many of us Sudanese prisoners got together and decided this wasn’t enough, that we should walk to Jerusalem. Some others from Eritrea decided to take another path and go into hiding.“Both my parents were killed in Darfur”Us, we know we might get arrested once our 48 hours are up. A police car is following us. But we don’t care. We have to make our message heard, to show people that we are peaceful human beings, and that we are suffering. We ran away from a country with great troubles, which we can’t return to. Me, both my parents were killed; I was in danger there. We came to Israel hoping to find refuge, but instead we were put in prison like criminals. If Israel won’t accept us as refugees, then it must transfer us to other countries that will.So far, we have not run into any trouble on the road. Last night, after walking from Holot to the nearest town, Israeli activists helped us find a place to sleep. They also gave us winter clothes so we could keep warm. [Editor’s Note: Israel is experiencing unseasonably cold weather. Three of the marchers were hospitalized Sunday evening due to the effects of the cold.] Some of these Israelis have now joined our march. We are so thankful to see that there are people who understand us. We don’t know what will happen next, but we have no choice but to keep going.