Netanyahu: African Migrants Will Be Deported in 'Humane' Fashion

Speaking ahead of first flight of deported South Sudanese migrants, premier says Israel has to uphold a Jewish tradition of treating foreigners with dignity.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Israel's immigration police on Sunday, ahead of the first deportation of South Sudanese migrants, adding that the move to expel the migrants would be conducted in keeping with Jewish "humane" tradition.

The first flight carrying migrant workers back to South Sudan is scheduled to leave Sunday night, with 120 passengers on board. But officials at the Saharonim detention center say they see no signs of impending movement from the intended passengers, all of whom have "volunteered" to return to Africa, according to the Interior Ministry.

Government officials say the group will be brought to Ben-Gurion International Airport tonight, where they will receive immunizations before boarding a Bulgarian passenger plane leased by the state, accompanied by representatives from South Sudan.

Referring to the upcoming deportation, Netanyahu praised immigration police at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, saying they "are doing important work under less than simple circumstances."

"I urge them to continue their humane conduct and would also request public figures do the same with the steps they take and the remarks they make," Netanyahu said, adding: "We have a Jewish tradition of treating foreigners in a humane manner to safe hold."

The premier also said that the deportations will be carried out in a "restrained, meaningful, and ordinary manner, while safeguarding [the migrants'] dignity."

The Interior Ministry's immigration authority said on Thursday that it would extend the deadline for South Sudanese to apply for voluntary repatriation in return for a cash allowance - $1,300 for adults and $500 for minors.

Olivier Fitoussi