By Soroor Ahmed (NVONews.Com)
Israeli immigration officials have rounded up hundreds of African illegal migrants in the last couple of days, especially from South Sudan and Ivory Coast, to deport them back to their respective countries.
The illegal African migrants, whose number is said to be 60,000, managed to infiltrate into the country through the porous border of Sinai several years back. They work in hotels and restaurants, as daily wage earners or do other lowly paid jobs. Their deportation from the state of Chosen People, has sparked off a debate.
The illegal migrants from South Sudan are not Muslims, but mostly Christians. Both these countries are civil war ravaged. When these infiltrators managed to sneak into Israel they were Sudanese nationals as the new nation of South Sudan was not born then. It came up just a year back.
The migrants arrested and packed for deportation are nervous and tense as they are uncertain about their future.
According to Jacob Berri, a spokesman for the South Sudanese community of migrants, there are children here who only speak Hebrew. They do not even know the language where they are going as they have been living in Israel for the last several years.
These South Sudanese are the first to be repatriated under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emergency plan called Operation Returning Home.
As Africans can be identified easily they are being stopped on the streets and issued deportation orders. About 100 more have been arrested on Tuesday morning itself.
These African migrants are considered as a threat to the Jewish character of the state. A columnist wrote in one of the leading daily that the methods may be â€œneedlessly brutalâ€ but it was necessary.
The first flight with these migrants is expected to leave Israel for Juba, the capital of South Sudan, on June 17. Their detentions began on June 10 in the Red Sea resort of Eilat.
Both men and women have their handcuffed. Those detained were sent to the Saharonim detention facility in the Negev Desert, close to Sinai desert.
These South Sudanese migrants may have something to be happy about. Their country is now free of civil war, and no more part of the Muslim-dominated Sudan. But the war with Sudan on the border is still on and poverty is visible everywhere in this new landlocked country. They may be back in home but their condition would be worst than earlier. For the children it would be all too painful.
Interestingly, they are being deported under an agreement between South Sudan and Israel.
In the next stage Israel will remove all the infiltrators from Eritrea and Sudan, whose number runs into several thousands.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu said legislation to stop the illegal hiring of Africans would now be strictly enforced.
What is curious is that while Israel is returning illegal migrants, Jews are busy identifying their lost tribes in other African countries and in Manipur and Mizoram in India. There are demands that they be brought back to Israel and migration rules relaxed for them.