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Israeli has begun rounding up South Sudanese migrants, three days after a court ruled that their lives were no longer at threat in their homeland.
Israeli has begun rounding up South Sudanese migrants, three days after a court ruled that their lives were no longer in danger in their homeland.
"The deportation operation is getting under way. We are starting the job," Agence France-Presse quoted interior minister Eli Yishai as telling independent TV station Channel Two.
“We told the infiltrators from South Sudan to come voluntarily; whoever doesn’t, with the Lord’s help we shall get them all... they’ll be put on a plane."
According to the channel, eight South Sudanese had already been taken into custody.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post cited the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority (PIBA) as saying that three Nigerians, three Ghanaians, two Ivorians, three Sri Lankans and three Romanians had also been arrested.
The arrests came despite a court recommendation that PIBA give South Sudanese a week to turn themselves in to immigration authorities.
All of the South Sudanese were arrested in Eilat, a resort town near the Egyptian border, the Post reported.
More from GlobalPost: Israel to deport African migrants
A separate Post article claimed that "around 7,000 African infiltrators" were living in Eilat, also Israel's southernmost town.
Their presence threatened to unleash "lethal, racial conflict between veteran Israeli residents and the city’s African migrant population," the paper wrote.
Many of the initial migrants arrived under a system of work permits for foreigners that was canceled in 2006, when the government launched “Operation Uvda” to recruit Israelis to work in the hotels.
However their numbers had continued to grow — to include around 60,000 who had entered the country illegally, according to the Interior Ministry.
The African migrant issue in Israel has caused a spike in racial tensions that recently resulted in a riot in southern Tel Aviv, home to tens of thousands of African migrants.
As news of the roundup broke, hundreds of African migrants took to the streets of south Tel Aviv calling for the United Nations to intervene, according to Channel Two.
They were heard chanting, "An African is a human being."