Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Israeli authorities have begun distributing deportation notices to thousands of African refugees and migrants, who have been threatened with jail if they do not leave the country

About 60,000 migrants, nearly all from Eritrea and Sudan, crossed Israel’s border with Egypt before the government erected a fence along the desert frontier. Many were fleeing persecution and violence. Roughly 20,000 have already been expelled, according to the Israeli government. The Jewish nation has granted asylum to fewer than 1% of those who have applied and has a years-long backlog of applicants. Israel's Population and Immigration Authority told asylum-seekers that they would be sent to an unnamed country with a "stable government" that has "developed tremendously over the last decade and has absorbed thousands of returning residents as well as migrants from various African countries". The Israeli government has refused to publicly name the country but officials have indicated migrants would be sent to Rwanda. Many of those ordered to leave have expressed fear of being sent to the East African nation and said that they would rather be sent to prison. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the migrants “illegal infiltrators” and claimed that their presence was a threat to Israel’s social fabric and Jewish character. One government minister has referred to the migrants as “a cancer”. “We have expelled about 20,000 and now the mission is to get the rest out,” Netanyahu said.

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