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12 January 2018, 06:51 | Opal Carroll
From a prison at home to a prison in Israel
The Israeli government plans to notify thousands of African migrants in the country that they must leave within three months or face imprisonment.
According to Netanyahu, about 60,000 Africans entered Israel until it completed a wall along its border with Egypt in 2013, while about 20,000 of those have already been deported. Though the state has not named the third countries, they have been identified in as Rwanda and Uganda in interviews with deported migrants.
Right groups say the move to deport African refugees and migrants would violate both worldwide and Israeli laws.
A spokesperson for Israel's Population and Immigration Authority told the BBC there were now 38,000 "infiltrators" in Israel, of whom just 1,420 were being held in detention facilities.
Those who cooperate and leave by the end of March will receive $3,500, along with airfare and other incentives, as reported by multiple outlets.
"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.
Israel's treatment of African refugees has come under attack from local human rights groups, who say a country founded by Jewish refugees persecuted during World War II should be more understanding of the asylum seekers' plight.
Right groups say the move would violate both global and Israeli laws.
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Teklit Michael, a 29-asylum seeker from Eritrea living in Tel Aviv, said in response to the Israeli plan that paying money to other governments to take in Africans was akin to "human trafficking and smuggling".
"This plan will get under way today", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. Due to economic hardship, many of them ended up going to Israel, but as many are not allowed to stay legally, they are also not allowed to seek employment.
"We have no partnership agreement with the government of Israel, ask them (Israel) to explain how they reached that decision", the minister said.
This is all part of an Israeli campaign to expel roughly 42,000 illegal African migrants from the country. "We don't know what is waiting for us (in Rwanda and Uganda)", he told Reuters by telephone. "The expulsion to Rwanda endangers the very lives of these refugees", the organizations said.
Some migrants lived for years in Israel and work in low-paying jobs that many Israelis shun.
People from Eritrea and Sudan make up a significant number of migrants in Israel.
Israel has granted asylum to some people who have applied in the past.
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