Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Cabinet meeting on Sunday that "the first plane of illegal infiltrators (would) leave for South Sudan" that night, with another aircraft set to depart next week for Africa.
"Today, the government will begin the operation to repatriate illegal work infiltrators to their countries of origin," Netanyahu said, according to a cabinet communique released by Israel's foreign ministry. "We will do this in an orderly and dignified manner.
The issue of illegal African migrants has been of growing concern in the country in recent months. According to government records, more than 59,000 illegal African immigrants have entered the country in recent years through its southern border with Egypt.
Most of the migrants come from Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan. Some of them have refugee status and hold temporary permits to remain in the country, but Israel does not recognise the status of most of them and says it is looking for ways to send them back to their
home countries. More than 2,000 new migrants have been reported over the past month.
Some residents of southern Tel Aviv neighbourhoods, where there is a large concentration of Africans, have blamed their new neighbours for increasing crime and suffocating the infrastructure and public services. Some also complain the illegal immigration is changing the fabric of Israel.
Earlier this month, an Israeli court approved a government plan to deport 1,500 migrants from Africa. Many Israeli refugee agencies and officials pushed against those plans and called on the government to allow the migrants to stay.
And Israeli authorities announced last Tuesday that they'd detained 240 illegal migrants - all of them Sudanese - as part of the controversial plan, with another 300 people volunteering to return to their country of origin.
"We are sending the infiltrators, migrants, back to their homes like all countries in the West, in Europe, in the USA act when dealing with migrants," Interior Minister Eli Yishai said then. (CNN)