Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) officials detained 73 African migrants Tuesday morning in the third day of Operation "Going Home," in which authorities plan to deport South Sudanese in Israel.
On Monday, PIBA arrested 115 African migrants, 105 of whom are South Sudanese and the remainder from Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
The majority of the arrests were taking place in south Tel Aviv, Eilat and in other cities throughout Israel where South Sudanese nationals in particular tend to reside.
The arrests follow a ruling issued by the Jerusalem District Court last Thursday, which rejected a petition by human rights groups to bar the expulsion of South Sudanese migrants, saying that the NGOs had not proven that the lives of returnees would be in danger if they return.
The arrests also began Sunday in spite of promises that South Sudanese would have a week to voluntarily leave before arrests begin.
Speaking with Israel Radio Tuesday morning, representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Israel Sharon Harel said that there is nothing stopping Israel from deporting South Sudanese nationals back to their new state as long as individuals are given the opportunity to make asylum claims.
This week’s arrests by immigration officers of several dozen African migrants in the south and center of Israel is the first step in the eventual expulsion of all illegal migrants from Israel, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Monday.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.