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Israel this week started deporting a planeload of migrants to South Sudan early on Monday, the first of a series of weekly repatriation flights intended as a stepping stone to dealing with much greater influxes of migrants from Sudan, Eritrea and Ivory Coast.
About 60,000 Africans have crossed into Israel across its porous border with Egypt in recent years. Israel says the vast majority are job seekers, disputing arguments by humanitarian agencies that they should be considered for asylum.
Many in Israel see the Africans as a threat to public order and to the demographics of the Jewish state. Street protests, some violent, have put pressure on the government, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of Africans “flooding” and “swamping” Israel, threatening “the character of the country”.
The government has seized on the few hundred South Sudanese migrants, whose de facto refugee status was rescinded by an Israeli court this month, and whose government, sympathetic to Israel, is happy to take them back