JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hundreds of African migrants protested in Tel Aviv against violence directed at them, as well as Israeli government policy toward migrants as a group.
Some 300 migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, according to Ynet, marched Sunday night from Levinsky Park in Tel Aviv to the United Nations mission. They carried signs reading "A refugee is not cancer, he’s a person who escaped persecution and is entitled to protection" and "We want group protection, not refugee rights," and "stop violence against refugees."
Meanwhile, Israel’s Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority reportedly arrested more than 50 illegal migrants, mostly from South Sudan, early Monday in advance of deportation as the approach of the deadline of an order requiring them to leave the country. The operation, which took place in Tel Aviv, Beersheba and Eilat, as well as other large cities, reportedly will continue for several days.
Last week, the authority announced that the migrants illegally in Israel would have one week to turn themselves in and leave the country, with a small grant to help them get started in their home country, or be deported.
The deadline was imposed following a June 7 Jerusalem District Court ruling that the migrants could be deported because the lawsuit filed on their behalf failed to prove that they would face "risk to life or exposure to serious damage."
Some 1,500 South Sudanese are affected by the ruling. Approximately 60,000 African migrants are living in Israel, and thousands are infiltrating into the country each month through its border with Egypt.
Israeli 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.
Israel recognized South Sudan a day after it officially announced its independence from Sudan last July 9 and initiated formal ties three weeks later.