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51 members of Hebrew Israelites Community of Dimona ordered to leave by Sept. 23

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Members of the Hebrew Israelites Community of Dimona dance during festivities marking the Shavuot festival in the southern Israeli town of Dimona, May 26, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)
Members of the Hebrew Israelites Community of Dimona dance during festivities marking the Shavuot festival in the southern Israeli town of Dimona, May 26, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)

Around 50 members of the Hebrew Israelites Community of Dimona in southern Israel are being told that they must leave the country by September 23 or risk forcible deportation by the immigration police.

In a response to appeals that they be allowed to stay, the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority wrote to each family that neither residency in Israel for long periods, nor work were sufficient grounds for a change of status.

The recipients plan to appeal against the decision to a court in Beersheba, in southern Israel.

Earlier this year, 17 letters were sent to families numbering 51 individuals in total, some of whom were born in Israel and some of whose children have served in the IDF. They were told to leave within 60 days, but were given the right of appeal.

The community, which believes it is descended from an ancient Israelite tribe, began arriving in Israel in 1969, following the late Ben Carter, a Chicago steelworker who renamed himself Ben Ammi Ben Israel and claimed to be God’s representative on earth.

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