The South Sudanese government issued a formal complaint to the Foreign Ministry
this week, asking Israel not to refer to the repatriation of their citizens as
“deportations” and to refrain from photographing their expulsion from the
country, an official at the ministry confirmed on Thursday.
said Juba requested that such steps be taken “in order to preserve the dignity
of the South Sudanese” going through deportation, adding that the complaint was
not about the repatriation itself.
The official said that the complaint
was based on “the process rather than the substance of the deportations,” and
said that it is in keeping with statements by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
who has stressed the need for the deportations to be carried out with
The first round of deportations took place on June 17, when
123 South Sudanese were deported on a midnight flight to Juba. The deportations
were highly publicized and photographed, with dozens of cameramen stationed at
Ben-Gurion Airport. Interior Minister Eli Yishai stood in front of the South
Sudanese families in the departure hall while the South Sudanese were being
processed and gave a press conference where he vowed to work to rid Israel of
all of the more than 65,000 illegal African migrants living in the country. He
also posed for pictures arm in arm with South Sudanese deportees.
Thursday, Yishai announced that migrants from the Ivory Coast will have two
weeks to leave Israel voluntarily or be deported.
now, will be thrown directly into jail,” he said, adding that “the Eritrean and
Sudanese migrants will all eventually be thrown out of the country.
have two weeks to leave. Whoever does so will be eligible for a subsidy. Whoever
does not will be thrown out.”
The interior minister also repeated a
statement he has made in the past that the situation in Eritrea, a dictatorship
where the UN says human rights abuses are widespread, is safer than in the
western Negev town of Sderot, which is often the target of Gazan rocket
Yishai added that Israeli officials are in contact with
counterparts in Sudan and Eritrea to organize the deportation of
The number of Ivorians in Israel is estimated to be between a
few hundred and 2,000.
The Interior Ministry has said that any migrant
who leaves of his or her own accord will receive $500 per adult and $100 per
child. Those who do not will be incarcerated and deported.
deportation of South Sudanese earlier this month, the ministry offered the
adults $1,300 each and $500 per child as compensation for leaving voluntarily.
The ministry spokesman clarified that the discrepancy between the two offers was
unimportant and that it was not obligated to offer any money at
“This is an important step to returning the migrants to their home
countries,” Yishai said. “It also will help return a feeling of security to
Netanyahu met visiting Ivory Coast President
Alassane Ouattara on June 18, and they agreed on a plan to repatriate Ivorians
who arrived in Israel without permission.
Until the middle of last year
it was impossible to deport Ivorians because the country was in the throes of
civil violence; that situation has changed since Ouattara came to power in
Now, according to diplomatic officials, Ouattara’s government is
interested in its citizens returning from various locations around the world
because it will signal that stability has returned to the country.
arrested Ivorians in the past, but not on scale that arrests of South Sudanese
have been carried out recently.
The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday
rejected a petition against the deportation of Ivorians.
Also this week,
the Population, Immigration and Border Authority announced that while it had
deported 280 South Sudanese so far this month, 800 African migrants had crossed
into Israel illegally from Egypt. PIBA added that because the “Infiltrators Law”
went into effect earlier this month, all 800 have been jailed.
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Keinon contributed to this report.