Israel: Government orders thousands of African migrants to leave country or face imprisonment

Israel: Government orders thousands of African migrants to leave country or face imprisonment
Israel has announced a large-scale campaign to remove illegal African immigrants. As many as 42,000 African migrants have been ordered to leave the country within 90 days or face imprisonment. (Menahem Kahana /AFP/Getty Images)

The Israeli government has ordered thousands of African migrants to leave the country within 90 days or face imprisonment.

What’s the story?

Israel has announced a large-scale campaign to remove illegal African immigrants, according to Israel’s Ynetnews.

As many as 42,000 African migrants or “infiltrators” have entered Israel illegally, BBC News reported. Of those, nearly 1,500 are currently held at the Holot detention center for attempting asylum. Many of the immigrants, who are mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, fled to Israel seeking asylum from persecution and conflict, BBC News reported.

The elderly, children, and victims of slavery and human trafficking are reportedly exempt from the order.

Infiltrator is a term the Israeli government uses to describe people who entered the country illegally. The government currently considers most of the “infiltrators” to be economic migrants.

Those who leave within the allotted time will receive up to $3,500, airfare, and other incentives, according to Ynet. They also can choose whether to return to their home country or a third country.

What will happen to the migrants at the detention facility?

Last month, the government approved a bill to close the detention facility and expel its inhabitants to Rwanda, which has caused concern among some human rights groups. Israel and Rwanda also recently signed an agreement whereby asylum-seekers can be sent to Rwanda even without their consent.

The advocacy group, Hotline for Migrant Workers, told Ynet that the expulsions “put the refugees’ lives in danger.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the African migrants threaten the nation’s Jewish character.