Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Thursday called the situation in Eritrea better than in Sderot.
comments came hours after the interior ministry announced that migrants
from the Ivory Coast have two weeks to leave voluntarily before being
deported by force.
"Infiltrators, starting now, will be thrown
directly into jail," Yishai said. "I insist that the Eritrean and
Sudanese migrants will all eventually be thrown out of the country...
the situation in Eritrea is better than in Sderot and southern Israel."
added that Israeli officials are in contact with counterparts in Sudan
and Eritrea to organize the deportation of migrants.
In a message to migrants from the Ivory Coast earlier in the day, Yishai said: "You have two weeks to leave. Whoever does so will be eligible for a subsidy. Whoever does not will be thrown out."
Of the 65,000 African migrants believed to be in the country, the
numbers from the Ivory Coast range from a few hundred to some 2,000.
Yishai instructed the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) to begin preparations to deport the Ivorian population. According to an Interior Ministry statement, any migrant who leaves of his or her own free will will receive $500 per adult and $100 per child. Those who do not do so will be incarcerated and deported.
During the deportation of South Sudanese earlier this month, the Interior Ministry offered the migrants 1,000 euros as compensation for leaving voluntarily. The ministry spokesman clarified that the discrepancy between the two offers was unimportant and that they were not obligated to offer any sum at all.
"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 [Israeli] residents."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met visiting Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara earlier this month, agreeing on a plan to repatriate Ivory Coast nationals who arrived in Israel without permission.
While up 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 April.
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.
Israel has carried out arrests of Ivorians in the past, but not in the large scale sense that arrests of South Sudanese have been carried out recently.
A petition against the deportation of Ivorians was overruled earlier this month.
Herb Keinon and Ben Hartman contributed to this report