Nearly 38,000 migrants from Eritrea and Sudan were handed over notices to exit the country voluntarily by March-end or face indefinite jail time, New York Times has reported.
The Eritreans and Sudanese people are being made to choose between either US$3,500 and a plane ticket to a third country in Africa or face jail time, the report said. Many migrants facing deportation notices fear they might be sent to Rwanda.
Calling the migrants, "infiltrators" Netanyahu announced over Facebook, "The government approved a plan today that will give every infiltrator two options: a flight ticket out or jail."
"Every country must guard its borders," Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said announcing his plan earlier in January. "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 the law."
Several members of the Israeli community including doctors, pilots, retired diplomats, professors, rabbis, architects, and musicians issued petitions urging Netanyahu to consider refugee and immigrant rights in the country which was built by migrants in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
Nearly 36 Holocaust survivors, many who also spent time in concentration camps and ghettos in Europe, also penned a letter to the Israeli PM, urging him to “learn the lesson."
“As a country founded by refugees,” said another letter signed by 850 members of the Jewish clergy and delivered to Israeli embassies and consulates in the United States and Canada, “and whose early leaders helped craft the 1951 International Convention on the Status of Refugees, Israel must not deport those seeking asylum within its borders," New York Times reported.
According to New York Times, around 60,000 Sudanese and Eritreans crossed the border from Egypt to reach Israel in 2005. The influx came to a halt in 2012 when Israel decided to put a steel barricade on a 150-mile long stretch bordering Egypt.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, "anyone recognized as a victim of slavery or human trafficking, and those who had requested asylum by the end of 2017 but haven't gotten a response" would also be exempt for now."
Israeli Billionaire George Soros is trying to thwart the deportation campaign, according to the leaked reports by Channel 10 and Haaretz.
“George Soros is also funding the protests,” Netanyahu confirmed, according to the Times of Israel.