|Israel arrests 213 immigrants in mass round-up|
|Wednesday, 13 June 2012 22:03|
“Yesterday, 115 illegal immigrants were arrested, of which 105 were from South Sudan,” she said of the mass round-up which is being referred to as “Operation Returning Home.”
“This week, we will pay for their airline tickets and give US$1,250 to each adult that agrees to return to their home country with their children,” she added, saying the offer was “only on the table for one week.”
Further raids yesterday morning saw another 73 people arrested, immigration officials said without giving a breakdown of their countries of origin.
Official figures show there are 60,000 Africans living in Israel illegally, most of whom live in the run down neighbourhoods of southern Tel Aviv.
But around a quarter of that number are living in the southern Red Sea resort town of Eilat, located next to the Egyptian border, and where immigration police could yesterday be seen stopping African passers by and asking for their IDs, an AFP correspondent said.
“For the time being, I feel good. I'm not sure they can find anything on us," said 32-year-old Anthony Christiano from South Sudan.
“I don’t blame them (the immigration police) — it’s the state that wants us out,” he said.
Nearby, local resident Yusef Khuri sat at a small table gathering signatures to urge the authorities to rid the city of its African immigrants, flanked by posters reading: “Free conquered Eilat.”
“They have wrecked our country and have taken over every aspect of our lives,” he spat.
“They are border jumpers, they should be shot.”
Last week, an Israeli court decided that the lives of an estimated 1,500 South Sudanese were no longer at risk in their homeland, clearing the way for their mass expulsion.
It was not immediately clear when the deportations would begin, although a report in Israel's Maariv newspaper suggested that the first flight would leave for Juba, the capital of South Sudan, on Sunday. — AFP.