A UN soldier prepares to distribute water to the population of Tai, in the western Ivory Coast.
A UN soldier prepares to distribute water to the population of Tai, in the western Ivory Coast near the border with Liberia, June 18, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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Reuters
African migrants stand in line to receive food at Levinsky park in south Tel Aviv, June 13, 2012. Photo by Reuters

The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday denied a petition by 132 migrants from the Ivory Coast to retain the group immunity from deportation they had enjoyed until last December.

"The petitioners did not offer a factual basis for the claim that there was inherent danger to the life or freedom of an Ivory Coast national if he were returned to his native land," wrote Judge David Mintz.

"The data in their entirety regarding the security situation in the Ivory Coast shows that even though the situations in some parts of the country are still problematic and dangerous, there has been a gradual but significant improvement in recent months," the judge continued.

There are an estimated 1,500-2,000 migrants in Israel from the Ivory Coast, a West African nation in which civil war has been raging for the past decade. While a peace treaty signed in 2008 improved the situation there somewhat, the United Nations, in January 2011, declared the country unstable and advised against repatriating its citizens.

But in December, the Interior Ministry decided to rescind the group immunity it had granted the Ivorians in the past and declared they would be deported. The 132 migrants were petitioning against that decision.

Attorney Tomer Warsha, who represented the petitioners, said he would draw up individual asylum requests for each petitioner. "The state has to give them a chance to prove they need protection," he said.

The deportations are scheduled to start in July.