The Beersheba District Court issues an interim injunction for seven days prohibiting the Interior Ministry’s immigration police from enforcing deportation orders against some 50 members of the Hebrew Israelites community, who live in southern city of Dimona.
Within these seven days, the Interior Ministry can appeal against allowing the court to continue with a class action suit against the deportation that has been submitted on behalf of the deportees.
If it does not appeal, the injunction will remain in place until the judge decides on the case.
None of those ordered to leave by September 23 have done so. On Sunday, immigration police started looking for them in employment areas of the desert city.
Those who received deportation notices either entered Israel from the United States as tourists and remained in the country illegally once their permitted three-month stay was up, or are the children of those who did so.
The Interior Ministry says that neither residency in Israel for a long period nor work in the country are sufficient grounds for a change of status.
The 3,000-strong 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.
The community is not recognized as Jewish by Israel’s religious authorities.