African Refugees Should Leave Israel Or Face Arrest; Benjamin Netanyahu Says
The Israeli Prime Minister has reportedly asked officials on Wednesday to begin implementing a plan to force tens of thousands of African migrants and refugees to leave the country or face arrest.

Under the programme, the Israeli government called on migrants from Sudan and Eritrea, largely settled in poor neighbourhoods of south Tel Aviv, to ‘leave to their country or a third country’, offering $3,500 to those who depart by April, and prison to those who refuse.

Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting: “This plan will get under way today,”. He instructed the national security adviser, Meir Ben Shabbat, to look into forced expulsion as his cabinet met to approve a plan to offer 40,000 people the choice of being deported until the end of March with a cash payment or being incarcerated indefinitely.

Netanyahu said: “Today the cabinet will approve the plan for deporting the infiltrators from Israel. We will step up enforcement and we will allocate budgets and personnel to implement the plan. I think that it is important that people understand that we are doing something here that is completely legal and completely essential.”

He added: “The infiltrators have a clear choice – cooperate with us and leave voluntarily, respectably, humanely and legally, or we will have to use other tools at our disposal, which are also according to law.”

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Human rights groups including the Centre for Refugees and Migrants, Amnesty International Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel have opposed the plan by signing a letter demanding the deportations be halted. “Anyone who has a heart must oppose the expulsion of the refugees,” the letter reads.

The groups said: “Rwanda is not a safe place. All the evidence indicates that anyone expelled from Israel to Rwanda finds himself there without status and without rights, exposed to threats, kidnappings, torture and trafficking.” referring to a widely reported deal to pay Rwanda $5,000 per person to accept the migrants.

The right groups while condemning Israelis treatment of African refugees, said a country founded by Jewish refugees persecuted during World War II should be more understanding of the asylum seekers’ plight.

Dror Sadot, spokesperson for the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants said: “The entire world is dealing with millions of refugees. It’s baseless for Israel, a developed country, to claim that it cannot take its part in carrying the burden,” she added: “Government officials refuse to recognize (the Africans’) existence,”

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