01:51 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem December 31, 2017

    Israel Introduces Plan to Cut Off Stream of Illegal Migrants

    © REUTERS / Gali Tibbon/Pool
    Middle East
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    During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the implementation of a plan, which will make illegal migrants leave the country, would get underway later in the day.

    Israel has designed a plan with an eye to force thousands of African migrants out of the country by April 2018, threatening them with jail if they disobey.

    “We have expelled about 20,000 and now the mission is to get the rest out,” Netanyahu said.

    Under the envisaged program, about 38,000 illegal migrants, mainly originating from Eritrea and Sudan, will be bound to leave by the end of March. On the surface, it may seem inhumane; however, the state will provide each of them with a free plane ticket and $3,500 for a fresh start in their home countries, or “third countries” (which were identified as Rwanda and Uganda by rights groups). If they miss the deadline, the amount will significantly decrease and those who will attempt avoiding the deportation will inevitably face arrest.

    “Beyond the end of March, those who leave voluntarily will receive a significantly smaller payment that will shrink even more with time, and enforcement measures will begin,” Reuters cited Netanyahu as saying.

    Moreover, a detention center for asylum seekers, named “Holot,” which has a capacity of 1,200 migrants, is also expected to be shut down. According to interior ministry data, it currently hosts 970 people, who are allowed to leave the facility to work during the day.

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    Netanyahu believes that the migrants’ presence jeopardizes Israel’s national security.

    "Every country must maintain its borders, and protecting borders from illegal infiltration is both a right and a basic duty of a sovereign state," he said.

    In his speech, Israeli Prime Minister mentioned a barrier Israel built in 2013 along its border with Egypt after some 60,000 migrants easily crossed the desert frontier, which has drastically stemmed the flow of illegal immigration.

    "Compared with the more than 2,000 infiltrators who entered Israel exactly a year ago and dispersed in various cities, only two crossed the border last month, and they were arrested," he said.

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    Israel came up with a plan to expel tens of thousands of migrants last year, when Netanyahu made a statement pointing out that the African migrants “are seen by many Israelis as a law and order issue and even a threat to the long-term viability of the Jewish state.”

    illegal migrants, migration, Benjamin Netanyahu, Africa, Israel
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