Israel begins deporting migrants back to African countries (CNN) Cable News Network) 06/18/12)
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(CNN) -- A plane full of illegal migrants were flown from Israel back
to Africa on Sunday night, the first of what potentially could be
thousands of such deportations of people who have illicitly entered
the Middle Eastern country in recent years.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Cabinet meeting
Sunday "the first plane of illegal infiltrators (would) leave for
South Sudan" that night, with another aircraft set to depart next
week for Africa.
"Today, the government will begin the operation to repatriate illegal
work infiltrators to their countries of origin," Netanyahu said,
according to a cabinet communique released by Israel´s foreign
ministry. "We will do this is an orderly and dignified manner.
The issue of illegal African migrants has been of growing concern in
the country in recent months. According to government records, more
than 59,000 illegal African immigrants have entered the country in
recent years through its southern border with Egypt.
Most of the migrants come from Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan. Some
of them have refugee status and hold temporary permits to remain in
the country, but Israel does not recognize the status of most of them
and says it is looking for ways to send them back to their home
More than 2,000 new migrants have been reported over the past month.
Some residents of southern Tel Aviv neighborhoods, where there is a
large concentration of Africans, have blamed their new neighbors for
increasing crime and suffocating the infrastructure and public
services. Some also complain the illegal immigration is changing the
fabric of Israel.
Earlier this month, an Israeli court approved a government plan to
deport 1,500 migrants from Africa. Many Israeli refugee agencies and
officials pushed against those plans and called on the government to
allow the migrants to stay.
And Israeli authorities announced last Tuesday that they´d detained
240 illegal migrants -- all of them Sudanese -- as part of the
controversial plan, with another 300 people volunteering to return to
their country of origin.
"We are sending the infiltrators, migrants, back to their homes like
all countries in the West, in Europe, in the USA act when dealing
with migrants," Interior Minister Eli Yishai said then.
In his remarks Sunday to Cabinet, Netanyahu said that construction of
a fence along Israel´s southern border will be finished "in the
coming months." Until then, any migrant who is caught crossing the
border illegally will be detained "immediately," with Netanyahu
noting that "holding facilities" are being built to "to house tens of
thousands of infiltrators until they can be sent out of the country."
The prime minister vowed to block such illegal migrants´ entry into
Israel and, if they do get in, to "hasten their deportation." He also
pointed to a law, recently passed by the Knesset, the boosts fines on
those who employ illegal migrants.
Still, while making clear they weren´t welcome in Israel, Netanyahu
stressed that they would be treated well.
"We have a Jewish tradition of treating strangers humanely," he
said, "And even when we need to deport them from our midst due to the
state´s desire to control its borders, we must do so humanely and in
a manner that finds expression in a restrained and humane manner." (©
2012 Cable News Network 06/18/12)
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