JERUSALEM — Israel is offering a stark choice to tens of thousands of African migrants in the country: Agree to leave voluntarily by the end of March, with a plane ticket and a grant of $3,500, or face possible incarceration.
“Every country must guard its borders,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, announcing the plan. “The infiltrators have a clear choice — cooperate with us and leave voluntarily, respectably, humanely and legally, or we will have to use other tools at our disposal, which are also according to the law.”
Later, on Facebook, Mr. Netanyahu wrote, “The government approved a plan today that will give every infiltrator two options: a flight ticket out or jail.”
It is the latest phase of Israel’s long campaign to expel tens of thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers, mostly Eritrean and Sudanese, who entered the country illegally. At least 20,000 have already left Israel. “The mission now,” Mr. Netanyahu said, “is to deport the rest.”
Mr. Netanyahu said a few months ago that Israel had reached understandings with African countries willing to absorb the migrants, but without identifying the countries. Based on testimonies of people who have already left, Israeli rights groups say the main destination appears to be Rwanda.Continue reading the main story