Israel started its crackdown on tens of thousands of African asylum seekers, offering the refugees thousands of dollars to leave and warning them that if they refuse to go by the end of March, they will face jail time and eventual deportation.
The announcement came Saturday from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who divulged that the Jewish State plans to deport approximately 38,000 illegal immigrants – mostly from Eritrea and Sudan – 1,400 of which are currently being held in two Israeli detention centers.
“We have expelled about 20,000, and now the mission is to get the rest out,” Netanyahu stated, according to Reuters.
He proclaimed at a cabinet meeting – scheduled to discuss the payment program that gives African migrants thousands of dollars each for leaving – that Israel is now seeking to minimize the influx of illegal immigrants that pored into his country before a secure border wall was erected several years ago.
“Netanyahu … said a barrier Israel completed in 2013 along its border with Egypt had effectively cut off a stream of ‘illegal infiltrators’ from Africa after some 60,000 crossed the desert frontier,” Reuters reported.
Serious immigration control measures
If the migrants who entered Israel illegally do not leave the country on their own volition by the end of 60 days, they will ultimately face expulsion after serving time in jail.
Yet it should be noted that only a small fraction of the targeted illegal aliens will actually fit inside Israel’s prisons.
“However, noting already overcrowded prison conditions, an unidentified senior Israel Prison Service official told the National Security Council that the nation will not be able to house more than 1,000 additional inmates due to a lack of space and funding,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
The zero-tolerance plan was described by Sabine Haddad – spokeswoman for Israel’s immigration authority – who notified AFP that beginning on Sunday, Israeli officials issued letters to illegal migrants that gives them 60-days-notice to leave the country voluntarily in order to avoid incarceration and eventual deportation.
However, officials emphasized that the notices are currently only being issued to men without families living in Israel – purposely excluding married men, women and children at this time.
"[A]nyone recognized as a victim of slavery or human trafficking, and those who had requested asylum by the end of 2017 but haven't gotten a response [would also be exempt for now],” the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, according to Newsmax.
The local daily also indicated that “between 15,000 and 20,000 people” are subject to near-term deportation.
Incentive to leave
In order to spur the illegal migrants to comply with the order, Israel officials are giving them a hefty cash incentive to leave – on time.
“The authority is offering those who agree to leave a grant of $3,500, a flight ticket and help with obtaining travel documents,” Newsmax reported. “Should they not leave by the deadline, the grant would be reduced and ‘enforcement measures’ would be taken against them and anyone employing them, the authority says.”
Reports that Israel had made a secret deal to give the Rwandan government $5,000 per deported migrant were strongly denied last month by Rwanda Ambassador Olivier Nbduhungirehe via a Twitter post.
With about half (20,000) of the 38,000 African migrants being mailed the ultimatum on Sunday, Israel is trying to swiftly deal with the overwhelming majority of refugees that it cannot or will not absorb into its population.
“According to the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, since 2013, the ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority has only reviewed 6,500 of the 15,000 asylum applications submitted, and approved 11,” the Jerusalem Post’s Daniel K. Eisenbud informed.
Safe or perilous return?
It is contended that illegal immigrants crossing Israel’s southern border from Egypt are entering the Holy Land with ill-intentions, indicating that many could pose a threat to the Jewish State, as Islamic migrants are often on board with the anti-Semitic religious mindset of wiping Israel off the face of the map.
“Israel refers to the tens of thousands of African migrants who entered the country illegally from neighboring Egypt as ‘infiltrators,” Newsmax noted.
Even though Israel feels international pressure to welcome “victims” of the so-called “refugee crisis,” it has decided to move forward with its deportation plan and pursue the interests of its citizens’ safety – as well as its own national security concerns.
“Israeli officials tacitly recognize that it is too dangerous to return Sudanese and Eritreans to their troubled homelands, but local media say the notices do not specify where departing migrants would be sent,” Newsmax pointed out. “Aid workers and media have named Uganda and Rwanda, although both countries deny being a destination for migrants being expelled involuntarily.”
Some within Israel are protesting the move.
“Public opposition to the plan has been slow to build, but some Israeli airline pilots have reportedly said they will not fly forced deportees,” Newsmax divulged. “Academics have published a petition and Israeli Holocaust survivors wrote an open letter to Netanyahu last month pleading with him to reconsider.”
The United Nations – with its long history of anti-Semitic policies often favoring the Palestinians and Israel’s surrounding hostile neighbors – has condemned Israel’s plan to act on its own security concerns, arguing that the refugees’ return to their homeland would be too dangerous.
“The UN refugee agency has called on Israel to scrap the plan, calling it incoherent and unsafe,” Newsmax informed. “A 2016 UN commission of inquiry into Eritrea's regime found ‘widespread and systematic’ crimes against humanity, and said an estimated 5,000 people flee the country each month. The International Criminal Court has indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide linked to his regime's counter-insurgency tactics in the Darfur conflict.”
Countering the claims of anti-deportation activists and the U.N., Israel insists that the migrants will experience a safe return to Africa, as stated on the subject line of the notice the government issued to the 20,000 African migrants on Sunday, which reads, “Notice on the arrangement of your departure from Israel to a safe third country.”
Without specifying the migrant’s country of origin or future destination, the notice assures the illegals that improved conditions await them after their departure from Israel.
“[You will be returning to a nation] that in the past decade has developed tremendously and that receives thousands of returning residents and immigrants from various African countries,” Israel’s notice to migrants reads, according to the Jerusalem Post. “In recent years, it has been showing some of the highest economic growth figures in Africa – thanks to exports to Europe and the United States – as well as to the flourishing tourism industry. This country enjoys stability in its regime, which has contributed to developments in many fields, including education, medicine and infrastructure.”