JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jerusalem court ruled that Israel could deport South Sudanese migrants who entered the country illegally.
Thursday’s decision in Jerusalem District Court was in response to an appeal by nongovernmental organizations representing African migrants. The appeal was filed after Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai issued a decision to return the migrants.
Israel recognized South Sudan a day after it officially announced its independence from Sudan last July 9 and initiated formal ties three weeks later.
The decision paves the way for the deportation of about 1,500 South Sudanese who entered Israel illegally. Yishai said that he hoped the decision would be a precedent to allow the deportation of African nationals from other countries.
"This is not a war against infiltrators," Yishai said, according to The Jerusalem Post. "This is a war for the preservation of the Zionist and Jewish dream in the land of Israel."
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said last month that South Sudanese could be repatriated to their country now that it has achieved independence and is deemed safe by the foreign ministry. Each asylum application must be considered individually, he added.
The Jerusalem court said that the deportations could commence since the case had not proven that those South Sudanese to be deported would face "risk to life or exposure to serious damage."
It is not known when the South Sudanese migrants will be deported.