Israel delays deportation of African migrants until after Passover
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Israel delays deportation of African migrants until after Passover

High Court agrees to a government request for more time in presenting state policies on removing thousands of asylum-seekers from the country

African asylum seekers protest against their deportation of asylum during a demonstration at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, March 24, 2018. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
African asylum seekers protest against their deportation of asylum during a demonstration at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, March 24, 2018. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Israel’s deportation of African migrants will be delayed until after Passover.

On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice agreed to a government request for an extension on the court’s order for a brief to outline the state’s deportation policy and related issues to April 9. The original deadline was March 26.

The state said it needed more time to respond to the court’s request for clarification of the policy and said it will submit classified documents as part of its filing, which are believed to include information on the African nation that Israel is deporting them to.

Passover, the week-long Jewish festival that celebrates emancipation as understood through recalling the biblical exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, begins on Friday night.

The state also said it likely will grant refugee status to Sudanese migrants from the Nuba area, as well as 300 refugees from Darfur.

The Supreme Court froze the deportations in mid-March in response to a petition.

In January, the Israeli Cabinet approved a plan and the budget to deport thousands of migrants from Sudan and Eritrea.

African asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against deportation of asylum seekers at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2018. (Gili Yaari/Flash90

Prior to that, the Population and Immigration Authority notified the migrants that as of January 1, they must return to their own countries or to a third nation, or be sent to jail until they are deported. According to the government plan, migrants who choose to leave by March 31 will receive a payment of $3,500 as well as free airfare and other incentives, according to reports.

They are believed to be sent to Rwanda, and possibly Uganda, according to reports, which also say that the migrants’ rights have been violated in the third country.

For now, deportation notices will not be issued to women, children, fathers of children, anyone recognized as a victim of slavery or human trafficking, and those who had requested asylum by the end of 2017 but have not received a response, Haaretz reported.

There are up to 40,000 Eritreans and Sudanese living in Israel, including 5,000 children.

Human rights activists in Israel and major US Jewish organizations have urged the Israeli government not to go ahead with the plan to force the migrants to choose between jail and deportation.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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