TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Israel has started the implementation of a plan to force tens of thousands of African migrants out of the occupied territories, threatening to detain those who refuse to leave.
“This plan will get underway today,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Based on the plan, nearly 38,000 migrants, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, who entered Israel illegally will have until the end of March to leave, otherwise they will be arrested.
Moreover, the Holot open facility in Israel’s desert south, which currently holds 970 people is set to be closed.
The plan, initially approved by the cabinet in November, has drawn concerns from the UN refugee agency.
The new regulation currently makes exceptions for women, children, parents of children and victims of human trafficking, but such exemptions are temporary.
Israel has made arrangements to send the Sudanese and Eritreans migrants to Rwanda and Uganda over concerns that they may face danger if they return home.
Activists and migrants, however, oppose the decision, saying Israel is trading the migrants with other countries against their will.
Large numbers of African migrants started coming to Israel though Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 2007. Those arrested at the Egyptian border were jailed in the Negev desert in southern Israel.
On release, the migrants settled in an area south of Tel Aviv, but their presence caused harsh criticism among Israeli residents in southern Tel Aviv and right-wing politicians.
In August, Netanyahu pledged to “return south Tel Aviv to the citizens of Israel,” saying the Africans were “not refugees but illegal infiltrators.”