Israeli policemen and immigration officers arrest an African asylum seeker after spending the last two days protesting in an outdoor camp near the Nitzana border crossing with Egypt in the Negev Desert June 29, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/Oren Ziv)
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Hundreds of illegal African immigrants began a hunger strike Monday after Israeli police forcibly broke up a sit-in they were staging along the Egyptian border.Israel opened Holot detention camp in the southern Negev desert last year as part of a crackdown on illegal immigrants, with the facility open by day but locked down at night.Sunday evening, police and immigration officials "violently" broke up the border encampment and took the demonstrators to Saharonim, another detention camp for African immigrants, the demonstrators said in a statement.Last year, Israel launched a crackdown on what it said were 60,000 illegal African immigrants, rounding up and deporting 3,920 by the end of the year, and building a hi-tech fence along the border with Egypt.The U.N. says there are some 53,000 refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel, most of whom entered via the desert border with Egypt.
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