Immigration authorities early Monday morning rounded up dozens of African illegal migrants for deportation in Eilat and other southern cities.
The roundup, carried out by the Population and Immigration Authority's Oz Unit, came one day after authorities arrested 25 migrants in Eilat
, among them eight from South Sudan.
Though PIBA had not yet released figures on how many arrests had been made, local South Sudanese in Eilat and south Tel Aviv told The Jerusalem Post that they knew of a large number detained on Monday. The migrants in both cities also said that members of the community were staying indoors to avoid arrest.
Orit Marom of ASSAF, the Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel, slammed the arrests as a "shame."
"Children getting ready for school were taken from their homes in the early morning," she told the Post. "It's despicable. How do they expect these people to submit individual requests to stay in Israel, as the state required of them, (while in custody)?"
The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday rejected a petition by human rights groups to bar the expulsion of South Sudanese migrants, who were supposed to have one week to leave voluntarily before Israeli authorities started arresting them.
The Department of Immigration said that though the week had not passed, they were still allowed to begin arresting the illegal migrants.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Thursday praised the court’s ruling, calling it “the first step in the expulsion of all the ‘infiltrators’ [in Israel].”
Hours after Sunday's arrests were announced, hundreds of African migrants, most of them from Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan, marched in Tel Aviv against what organizers said is racism and the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Israel.