Israel sending illegal migrants in first wave
Israeli immigration officers escort an African migrant carrying luggage. REUTERS photoA plane carrying 127 illegal immigrants took off for the South Sudan capital of Juba, in the first wave of expulsions of tens of thousands of Africans.
The first charter flight left Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv overnight yesterday carrying 127 men, women and children and was to arrive in Juba some four hours later, according to Israeli daily Maariv.
Over the past week, Israel has been conducting mass raids to round up illegal immigrants, most of them Africans, with the aim of sending them home. “So far, more than 500 people have volunteered to leave, and 300 people have been arrested,” Hadad said of the operation which began at dawn on June 10, according to Agence France-Presse. The vast majority of them are from South Sudan. Those who agreed to leave voluntarily have been promised a plane ticket and a grant of $1,250 per adult or $500 per child, officials say.
‘No work for infiltrators’
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who has vowed to rid Israel first of all the illegal immigrants from South Sudan and the Ivory Coast, then those from Eritrea and Sudan, was on hand at the airport to see them off, the correspondent said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said another plane would be leaving “next week.” “Today, the government will begin the operation to repatriate illegal work infiltrators to their countries of origin,” he told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting. “We will do this in an orderly and dignified manner.”
Harel Locker, director general of Netanyahu’s office, said that over the weekend, only 38 immigrants had crossed the border into Israel, in what was “the lowest weekend figure in years.”
“Our message that there is no work in Israel for infiltrators and that they will no longer be taken to Tel Aviv but put in detention for long periods, is getting through,” he told public radio. Israeli figures indicate there are some 60,000 Africans in the country illegally, most of whom live in run-down neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv.