Israel is taking steps to deport thousands of African migrants.
Israeli immigration authorities have begun issuing deportation orders to asylum seekers from war-torn Eritrea and Sudan. It is the latest step in Israel's plan to expel about 40,000 African migrants, after they entered the country illegally during the past decade.
A man who identified himself as Michael received a deportation notice. It said that by April 1st, he must leave for an unnamed African country, reported to be Rwanda.
Michael said it is wrong for Israel to deport refugees, knowing they face certain death back in Africa.
But the Israeli government rejects the refugee claim, saying the vast majority are economic migrants seeking a better quality of life.
The deportation order amounts to an ultimatum: The migrants can accept $3,500 and leave voluntarily, or they will face imprisonment. Israeli officials say the Africans are threatening the Jewish character of the state and blame them for rising crime and a deteriorating quality of life in South Tel Aviv.
An Israeli who lives in South Tel Aviv, Mai Golan, says the migrants must go.
She says Jewish residents are afraid to walk the streets, where they are harassed and sometimes robbed, raped or attacked by the Africans.
Nevertheless, Israeli human rights activists say the government's policy is illegal under international law, and immoral.
Parliament Member Michal Rozin of the liberal opposition Meretz party says Israel is deporting the migrants to an uncertain future in Africa, noting that Rwanda denies that it has agreed to take them in.
Critics say Israel has a moral obligation to shelter the Africans, considering the fate of Jewish refugees who were turned away from Western countries during the Holocaust.
Source: Voice of America