News / Middle East

Israel Begins Deporting Migrants from Africa

South Sudanese men carry luggage as they walk towards Tel Aviv's central bus station to board a bus to Ben Gurion airport, Israel, June 17, 2012.
South Sudanese men carry luggage as they walk towards Tel Aviv's central bus station to board a bus to Ben Gurion airport, Israel, June 17, 2012.
Robert Berger
JERUSALEM - Israel is deporting a first planeload of African migrants back to their home country.

Israel says the deportation of 120 Africans to South Sudan is the first step toward expelling thousands more. More than 4,000 migrants who came from African countries that have friendly ties with Israel will be sent home on weekly flights.

Describing the migrants as "infiltrators," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is carrying out the deportation in a humane way while safeguarding their dignity.

Each deportee was given 1,000 euros to help them start a new life in South Sudan.

But for the migrants, deportation is a punishment. Many have been in Israel for years, having fled war or poverty for the relative prosperity of the Jewish state. Simon Meir, who describes himself a Sudanese refugee, says he and the others want asylum in Israel.

"We [are] asking peacefully that refugees from Sudan should be recognized as refugees here, to take their rights, to give them health care, education and, you know, all these things," he said.

Israel, however, says the vast majority of the 60,000 Africans who have arrived here since 2005 are not refugees, but economic migrants. The Africans have been blamed for a growing wave of violent crimes, including alleged rapes of young Jewish women, prompting a backlash among Israelis who have demanded their expulsion.

Israeli officials say the migrants are a threat to security and the Jewish character of the state, and the deportation of the South Sudanese is the beginning of a campaign to expel most Africans from the country. But that is easier said than done. While Israel has diplomatic ties with South Sudan, the vast majority of Africans here came from Eritrea and Sudan, which is considered an “enemy state.”

William Tall of the United Nations agency for refugees says Israel is bound by international agreements.

"Anyone from Sudan, because of the ‘enemy state’ relationship, is considered a de-facto refugee, also from Eritrea; the government recognizes that it can’t send anyone back because of their risk of persecution there," he said.

Israeli human rights activists and intellectuals have criticized the government’s crackdown on the Africans. They say that Israel is a nation of refugees established in the wake of the Holocaust, and it has a moral obligation to help people in need.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 18, 2012 1:53 PM
Haba Israel! This is less than I expected from you. Much of Africa is at war - with itself, with terrorists, with the respective governments of the African countries, and with racial discrimination even from within. Why do you add to this trauma? No excuse is good enough for this action, and I can only say STOP, set up a refugee camp if need be. Do not get involved in this racial shame, it's not good for you at this point in time. You need Africa to survive the Arab and Middle East pressures.

by: orhan from: Istanbul, Turkey
June 18, 2012 6:15 AM
What distinguishes Israeli government from other apartheid ones which has recently imposed an inhumane ban on refugees who are seeking for a peaceful country where they can earn their livelihood ? In fact,the purpose behind these attempts is to revive racial discrimination one way or another. We' better ask why they deport only African refugees.It seems to me a sheer racisim
using different discourses with regard to national threats refugees are steadily posing.It isn't new that Israeli government has ignored the international laws that they are bound to.They have openly ignored the laws and killed 9 Turkish people on a relief vessel bound for Gazza. I think this will be a second disgrace on their international record and global community will by no means forget.
In Response

by: John from: Europe
June 19, 2012 9:04 PM
Maybe you in Turkey should take them in? You have large land areas, close connections with the Arab oil nations and surely can find a way to spare money to them? Israel on the other hand is a small country that have lived with a constant threat of destruction during all of it's existence, and it can't afford these illegal immigrants. Anyway, Israel will not only be deporting the African illegals, but all of them no matter where they're from.

Oh please, first of all it's been proven "Ship to Gaza" wasn't an aid mission (Israel even offered them to freely supply any aid to Gaza via Israeli ports), secondly the IHH organization have been found to have funded Islamist terror groups, lastly an official UN investigation have found the blockade on Gaza legal.
Now maybe you should focus on some real humanitarian cases, you know, like the Turkish genocide on Armenians, Kurds etc.

by: Rev: Martin from: juba/south sudan
June 18, 2012 5:53 AM
congratulation to you Israel.Most of African leave their Land and resettle in the develop county. welcome brothers.Be flexible.

by: Gene from: Swann
June 18, 2012 5:40 AM
Israel is a small country. It can not cope with such a large
influx of refugees fleeing poverty and causing criminal
activity. Israel has a responsibly towards protecting
its own people.

by: LAVietVet from: Rolling Hills Estates
June 17, 2012 6:59 PM
Israel does not want to have anything to do with African nationals, period! I can not their attitude either!

by: daniel from: norway
June 17, 2012 2:27 PM
Yes. I saw demonstrations last months were shops owned by africans were attacked, while people were shouting " out with the blacks"

at least they haven't forced black people to wear identifying tags on their clothing............. yet
In Response

by: James from: Nebraska
June 18, 2012 7:49 AM
Building a ghetto wall around the West Bank, deporting "infiltrators" with dignity . . .
In Response

by: Roni hacham from: israel
June 18, 2012 4:32 AM
No one force Africans to live in Israel as soon as they have very friendly government in Norway. You personaly may invite them to live in your hove.

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