News: The Secret Story of Israel’s Transit Camps

YNET | Noam Barkan | 03.03.2019


In the early years of the Jewish state, new immigrants were sent to ‘Ma’abarot’, tent cities of Jews from all over the world; conditions were tough and while many of the officers policing these shanty towns grew up there themselves, when the residents rioted, they were met with a firm hand.

Hundreds of tents sway to and fro in the cold wind; heavy rain pours down on them, and there is only mud underfoot. The new immigrants spend days waiting in line—for the shower, for the bathroom, for food—stripped entirely of any modicum of privacy. To ensure no one leaves the migrant camps or the ma’abarot (1950s Israeli transit camps deemed a step up from the migrant camps), the Israeli government instructed the police in 1949 to establish the “camp police.”

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