Court okays deportation of South Sudanese migrants

Interior minister welcomes decision, calls it first step in expelling the remaining African ‘infiltrators’

Eritrean refugees in Tel Aviv (photo credit: Nicky Kelvin/Flash90)
Eritrean refugees in Tel Aviv (photo credit: Nicky Kelvin/Flash90)

Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) welcomed Thursday morning’s decision by the Jerusalem Administrative Court authorizing the deportation of South Sudanese migrants back to their country of origin and rejecting a petition to postpone the deportations.

In a ministry press release, Yishai said: “I applaud the decision, which will allow law enforcement bodies to expel some 1,500 infiltrators who came from South Sudan, and I hope that this is just the first of many steps that will enable us to also deport those from Eritrea and [North] Sudan.”

MK Danny Danon (Likud), who serves as the chairman of the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, was also enthusiastic about Thurday’s court decision. Walla News reported that following the court announcement, Danon said to Yishai, “No more talk, it’s time for actions. Deport the South Sudanese immediately.”

Danon added that “the bleeding-heart leftists have failed in their attempts to prevent the deportation” and that “there is absolutely no reason why 3,000 South Sudanese should not be deported in the next two weeks.”

The petition to postpone the deportations was jointly submitted by several human rights organizations. In a press release, Orit Marom of ASSAF, the Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel, expressed disappointment in the court’s ruling as well as concern for the safety of the refugees, particularly the children who are being transferred to a very dangerous region. She added that the South Sudanese community has been working through legal channels to defend itself and now requests that the immigration authorities allow the migrants to leave Israel with dignity and not as criminals.

“All that is left now is to hope that the situation in South Sudan improves and stabilizes in the coming months, and that the deportation does not end up costing human lives,” said Marom.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in July 2011 after years of internal conflict in which more than two million people were killed. The peace treaty ending that war and resulting in South Sudanese statehood was signed in 2005.

The remainder of Sudan, sometimes called North Sudan, includes civil war ravaged Darfur, many of whose refugees are also currently residing in Israel. Last week, Yair Lapid, the leader of the recently formed Yesh Atid (There is a Future) political party, said that Israel should distinguish between refugees from Darfur and other African migrants, referring to the Darfur refugees as holocaust survivors whom Israel should take in.

There are currently approximately 35,000 migrants from Eritrea living in Israel, and 15,000 from Sudan. Over the past month, tensions have been running particularly high between Israelis and illegal African migrants, resulting in large demonstrations and occasionally degenerating into violence, primarily in the Hatikvah neighborhood in south Tel Aviv.

In his press release, Yishai reiterated his position that until all of the African migrants can be deported, he believes that they should be housed in specially built detention facilities and tent cities in order to keep the migrants concentrated in one area. “This is not about a war against infiltrators” Yishai said. “It ‘s about the war to preserve the Jewish Zionist dream in the State of Israel.”

Last year several planeloads of South Sudanese migrants were secretly transferred to South Sudan through a third country. The migrants who left were volunteers who wanted to help take part in establishing the new country.

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