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African Migrants Face Massive Deportation, Israel Warns Them

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Some 20.000 African migrants living in Israel have been given a voluntary deportation notice, leave the country or risk being put behind bars.

The government of PM Benjamin Netanyahu is using the carrot and stick approach, issuing a $3500 cash incentives and a plane ticket to migrants, many of whom are from Sudan and Eritrea to what it essential term ”safe destination” to another country in sub-Saharan Africa willing to accept them.

Under pressure from its nationalist support base, the right-wing government is gearing up to expel nearly 37,000 Africans. They consider them ”infiltrators” seeking for greener pastures instead of asylum. For a state that was founded as a safe-haven for Jews who themselves faced persecution, it would seem Israel has little compassion left.

There is a growing contented against the move, coming from rabbis, civil society groups of Holocaust survivors and ordinary Israelis asking the government to reconsider.

Job advertisements for immigration enforcers have been posted on government sites and the first batch of the eviction notices was dished out Sunday.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has given assurances that the migrants will be airlifted to a safe place, without much as naming where that might be. Human rights groups cited Uganda and Rwanda as likely host countries.

Speaking to Army Radio, Israel’s interior minister Aryeh Deri said ”They are not numbers, they are people, they are human and I am full of compassion and mercy, but the small state of Israel cannot contain such a vast number of illegal infiltrators” he also emphasized that Israel has an obligation to its own citizenry before anyone else.

Opposition to the government’s plan is gaining momentum as some Israelis are offering to take migrants who risk expulsion into their homes.

Anti-Defamation League, a US-based has urged Israel to reevaluate the plan, citing ”Jewish values and refugee heritage” while a group of 36 Holocaust survivors petitioned Netanyahu in a letter sent to his office asking that he not deport these migrants. Rabbi Susan Silverman has launched ”Israel Shelter” campaign aimed at signing up Israelis who are ready to take migrants into their homes. Over 600 Israeli families have shown interest to be their potential host in the following weeks.

Back in August, the Supreme Court ruled that authorities could keep illegal migrants in custody for up to 60 days. Women, children, and men with families were allowed to stay for the time being, as anyone pending their asylum application. Of the nearly 7000 requests reviewed thus far, on 11 migrants have been granted.

The UN refugee agency is asking Israel to reconsider, warning that migrants who have been relocated to sub-Saharan Africa in the past, wind up on perilous routes to Europe, suffering abuse, torture and sold into slavery. Rwanda is willing to accept migrants who will leave Israel of their own free-will. Rights group opposed to the move, say the government is ridding itself of people its considers undesirables, offering them no real guarantees for their security and safety.

 

 

Neba Benson,

BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst

 

 

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