JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel secretly repatriated at least 1,000 Sudanese citizens via a third country, an Israeli newspaper reported.
The repatriation was done without the knowledge of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Haaretz reported Tuesday.
Sudan is an enemy country which has vowed to punish any of its citizens for entering Israel.
The U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees prohibits Israel from returning asylum seekers to Sudan since by entering an enemy country they are at risk of death if they are returned.
Asylum seekers can be jailed in Israel for years without trial.
The Population, Immigration and Border Authority, a department of the Interior Ministry, told Haaretz that "the government’s policy of not deporting north Sudanese has not changed."
Israel claims the repatriation was voluntary, according to Haaretz. Israel paid for the plane tickets, according to the newspaper.
Haaretz reported that it knows the name of the third country but is not releasing it in order to protect those repatriated.