Six hundred illegal migrants currently residing in Israel have turned in their applications for a voluntary departure, according to statistics released on Tuesday by the Interior Ministry.
According to the government figures, 500 of the applicants were South Sudanese wishing to take part in operation “Returning Home,” a government initiative offering financial assistance of 1,000 euros (approximately $1,250) and a plane ticket home for migrants who agree to leave Israel of their own accord.
The ministry’s Population, Immigration and Borders Authority credited the special efforts of the unit to encourage voluntary emigration for the large number of Africans who have asked to leave Israel.
On Monday, 40 migrants of various nationalities were arrested throughout the country as part of a nationwide round-up of illegal migrants in Israel.
On June 7, a Jerusalem court approved the deportation of South Sudanese nationals who entered the country illegally. The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority announced shortly thereafter that South Sudanese would have one week to turn themselves in and leave the country, or be deported by force.
There are roughly 1,500 South Sudanese in Israel, a small percentage of the estimated 60,000-70,000 African migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan proper, who are known to have entered the country illegally.