The Israeli government started issuing deportation orders to African migrants earlier this year. These migrants can either accept the Israeli government’s offer of $3,500 and relocation to an undisclosed African country, or go to prison in Israel. While it is widely reported that they are being sent to Uganda and Rwanda, both governments have denied any deal with Israel regarding the mass deportation.
Israel has been experiencing a large migration from Africa since the mid 2000s. The small country went from housing 837 refugees in 2006 to about 58 times that in 2012.
Women and children are supposedly safe from the expulsion. However, many young men are coming of age with the fear that they will be kicked out. Many came to Israel as children or babies and have no ties to their homeland or the countries to which they could be sent. For some, their fathers or older brothers have already been sent away. As 21-year-old Alam Godin told the Washington Post, “It’s not our country, Rwanda or Uganda.”
About 38,000 Africans are living there today. A large number of these refugees are Eritreans, trying to escape forced labor in their military. According to migrants, abandonment of a military post could result in the slaughter of their families.
This poses a problem for the Israeli government, who consider the “invaders” to be seeking economic opportunity instead of fleeing a human-rights crisis. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the public, “We are taking actions against illegal immigrants who came here for work purposes. Israel will continue to be a shelter for true refugees and will eject illegal infiltrators.”