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Israel begins repatriating South Sudanese migrants

JTA

June 17, 2012 | 12:44 pm

A South Sudanese boy is lifted as he waves goodbye to his friend on board a bus before its departure to Ben Gurion airport from Tel Aviv's central bus station on June 17. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A South Sudanese boy is lifted as he waves goodbye to his friend on board a bus before its departure to Ben Gurion airport from Tel Aviv's central bus station on June 17. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A planeload of 120 illegal migrants was scheduled to leave Israel for repatriation in South Sudan.

The migrants reportedly began boarding buses Sunday afternoon headed for Ben Gurion Airport for a flight that evening.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the repatriation “orderly and dignified.”

“We have a Jewish tradition of treating strangers humanely, and even when we need to deport them from our midst due to the state’s desire to control its borders, we must do so humanely and in a manner that finds expression in a restrained and humane manner,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said that a second plane bound for South Sudan would leave next week.

He added that as of last week, infiltrators are placed in detention and can be detained for years. New detention facilities are being built, he said.

The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority said at the end of last week that it would extend the one-week deadline for illegal migrants from South Sudan to voluntarily leave the country, receiving a cash grant and a flight home in exchange.

Meanwhile, a firebomb was thrown Saturday night at a bar in south Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah neighborhood where migrants from Eritrea gather. One man was wounded.

Firebombs were thrown last month in two separate incidents at apartments in which several African migrants lived.

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