Illegal African Migrants Receive Deportation Notices To Leave Israel Within 60 Days

African illegal migrants carry their belongings following their release from the Holot Detention Centre in Israel's Negev desert, on August 25, 2015. Israel began releasing hundreds of African migrants from the detention centre after a court order, but the asylum-seekers were barred from entering two cities. A recent court decision …
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV – Israel on Sunday began issuing thousands of deportation notices to single Eritrean and Sudanese men who entered illegally, telling them they have 60 days to leave Israel to an unnamed African country with a “stable government” or face forced removal or imprisonment. 

The Ministry of the Interior said that, for now, married men, women and children will not be forcibly deported.

The unnamed country, rumored to be Rwanda, is said in the notice to have “developed tremendously” and “received thousands of returning residents and immigrants from various African countries” over the past decade.

Last month, however, Rwandan Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe denied reports that his government had made a secret deal with Israel to accept the migrants at $5,000 per head.

“In recent years,” the notice continues, that country “has been showing some of the highest economic growth figures in Africa, thanks to exports to Europe and the United States, as well as to the flourishing tourism industry.

“This country enjoys stability in its regime, which has contributed to developments in many fields, including education, medicine and infrastructure.”

The notice also says that illegal migrants who leave of their own will are eligible for a $3,500 grant in addition to an entry visa for the third country.

Recipients of the deportation notice will be granted a hearing wherein they may present their case within seven days of receiving the letter.

“Before making a final decision in your case, you are invited to attend a hearing that will take place at the enforcement facility where your permit is extended,” it states. “You must arrive at the facility with all the documents relevant to your case. You have the right to be represented. Should you fail to report, enforcement and relocation proceedings will be initiated against you.”

However, the National Security Council cited an unnamed senior Israel Prison Service official as saying that imprisonment was unlikely because the overcrowding of Israeli jails has already reached critical levels. According to the official, the prison system would be unable to absorb more than 1,000 additional inmates.

More than half of Israel’s 38,000 illegal African migrants will reportedly receive the deportation notice. The Interior Ministry said a minimum of 300 African migrants per month over the next three years will be deported.

The ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority has approved 11 of 15,000 asylum applications submitted since 2013, according to a claim by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.

Ori Lahat, the director for the African Refugee Development Center, said the ministry’s decision was a stain on Israel’s record that would last for generations.  The Center is financed by the New Israel Fund, a radical, anti-Israel NGO funded by billionaire George Soros.

“One thing that we noticed is that the Israeli government is moving ahead with its plan, while you can see we are getting people from all sectors – including Diaspora Jews – condemning this procedure, and I think at a minimum the government should reexamine this,” said Lahat. “I think this shows a deliberate intent of the government to not afford due process for asylum seekers, which is the key to this story.”

“From our point of view, if we allow this procedure to go through, in the end, it will be a stain on the history of Israelis and the Jewish people, and I think we need to do whatever we can to not let it happen,” he continued, adding that it was “a stain on our DNA as Jewish people and a country, and is something that we as Jews and Israelis cannot sit aside and let happen.”

“This campaign is baseless and absurd,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week in response to the furor. “Genuine refugees and their families will remain in Israel. We have no obligation to allow illegal labor migrants who are not refugees to remain here.”

He also accused Soros of funding the campaign against the deportations.

“George Soros is also funding the protests,” Netanyahu said, according to leaks from a meeting of ministers from his ruling Likud party. He was also said to have added that former president Barack Obama “deported two million infiltrators and they didn’t say anything.”

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