Dozens of migrants in Tel Aviv boarded buses to the Ben Gurion Airport before flying back to South Sudan on Sunday. Earlier, some 80 Africans from Arad boarded two buses headed to the airport.
- South Sudan reps in Israel: Deportation undignified
- 300 illegal aliens sign voluntary departure form
- Yishai: Eritrea as dangerous as Sderot
At Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting Netanyahu told the ministers that the first plane carrying migrants back to South Sudan will leave Israel on Sunday night with 120 passengers. Another plane will depart next week. "We will do this in an orderly fashion while maintaining their dignity," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister discussed the various ways in which Israel is tackling the migrant issue and promised that the border fence will be completed in the coming months. "We are also building a facility which will house tens of thousands. We shall raise fines for employers, and expedite their (the infiltrators') removal."
Netanyahu praised the work of members of the Oz Unit and asked the ministers to be careful with what they say about foreigners. "I am asking that you behave humanely. I ask this also of public servants. We shall all treat them with humanity."
Leaving Arad (Photo: eliad Levi)
Dozens of South Sudan citizens said their goodbyes on Sunday before heading to the Ben Gurion Airport. "I am glad to go back to my country," one migrant said. "We have a new country now and it's good for us," Theresa said.
Justin, 30, has resided in Israel for six years. "I feel good about going back, we're not mad at anyone," he said.
Waiting for the Bus to Ben Gurion Airport (Photo: eliad Levi)
"The atmosphere is very heavy," said Orit Marom of the Assaf aid organization for refugees and asylum seekers. "I went to a goodbye gathering last night. Sudanese guys went on stage happy to go back, but on the other hand they're terrified. It's a sad day to see that some people are gloating."
Patrick said he was not afraid of going back. "I have a new country. I spent eight years here, one day you'll see me as minister. I thank Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres for keeping the people here. There is no conflict between us and the Israelis."
Saying goodbye on the bus (Photo: Ofer Amram)
On Saturday night many South Sudanese citizens gathered in the streets of Arad and celebrated their return to South Sudan. But their joy was marred by sadness of leaving friends behind and anger towards those who organized their deportation.
Waving the South Sudan flag at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station (Photo: Ofer Amram)
"We love the State of Israel and the residents of Arad. We wanted to stay here but the state legislated a law saying we must go to our country. I hope in the future we will come back," said Paul Ton.
"I have no choice but to go back to Sudan," said Joseph Yafo. "I've been living in Israel for five years. I am going back to my country but I love Israel and Israelis very much. I hope there will be relations between the countries and I could come back."
Ilana Curiel contributed to this report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop