Five hundred and thirty six of those willing deportees were Eritrean and 67 were Sudanese.
Asylum seekers protesting their planned expulsion (Photo: Barel Efraim)
In addition, 65 migrants from other African countries departed by the same protocol during the same time period.
The report's data indicted a drop in the number of willing deportees compared to previous years. In 2017, for instance, some 3,400 migrants willingly left Israel—2,900 of them from Eritrea—with a similar number the year prior.
If the trend evident in the first quarter of the current year continues, only some 2,400 asylum seekers are expected to consent to deportation. The state's representatives expected a rise in the number of willing deportees, since asylum seekers were told that anyone who does not willingly leave by late March would either be deported or jailed, and money would be deducted from their grant.
It appears, then, that not only was the threat not efficacious in convincing migrants to leave, it had an opposite effect.
The report further showed that the number of African migrants consenting to leave decreased over time. In January, about a month after the deportation plan was approved, 248 asylum seekers left the country. In February that number decreased to 199 and in March—when the plan hit several roadblocks and was frozen by the High Court of Justice—it went down further to only 156.
According to the report, 33,562 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers currently reside in Israel. Seventy-eight percent of them—or 26,081—arrived from Eritrea. The Eritrean asylum seekers were joined by 3,068 migrants from other countries—2,609 from African countries— who arrived by entering Israel illegally through Egypt.
Since the beginning of 2018, however, no such illegal incursions from Egypt into Israel took place.
Apart from African migrants, the report showed that 74,000 foreigners were currently in Israel illegally after entering the country as tourists and overstaying their permits or visas. Some 51,000 of those foreigners are from former Soviet countries, mostly Ukraine and Georgia.
In addition, 91,338 foreign workers are currently in Israel legally, alongside 18,404 illegal foreign workers. Some 51,000 of those employed in Israel legally are in the nursing, while 23,000 work in the agricultural sector.
Among non-legal workers, 14,000 are employed in nursing and some 1,400 in agriculture.
Examining deportees next, the report showed 1,829 illegal aliens were deported since the year began. Similarly, those employing illegal aliens were levied with administrative fines totaling NIS 1,910,000. Moreover, employers were charged 65 times, with 28 sentences handed down for a total of NIS 1,073,500.
With the migrant expulsion plan terminally nixed earlier this week, attempts to find an African country to receive migrants forcefully expelled from Israel are ongoing, after a refusal by both Rwanda and Uganda to do so.
Interior Minister Deri (L) and PM Netanyahu plan to reopen the Holot and Saharonim facilities (photo: AFP)
On the backdrop of these efforts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced their intention to reopen the Holot detention facility—closed this past March—while also seeking to jail migrants in the Saharonim facility.
To achieve said goal, however, the government will have to follow through on its declared intention to enact an override power allowing it to circumvent High Court decisions, since the court forbade the detention of migrants in Holot for period of more than a year.
Kabraham Tawadla, an Eritrean asylum seeker who arrived in Israel in 2008, said in a Ynet studio interview Wednesday that even if he and his friends were jailed indefinitely, they would not leave Israel.
Eritrean asylum seeker Kabraham Tawadla said he and his friends will never consent to leave Israel
"We choose to stay here, unfortunately, be it in a closed or open facility," he said. "A normal person who escaped mortal danger will never choose to go back to places where his life is at risk. We—the Eritrean asylum seekers—face danger in our own country. We escaped it and there's no chance of us wanting to go back."
"We're completely threatened, or we wouldn't have escaped to begin with," he added. "We escaped our country in search of sanity. We reached the first country, Sudan, and then the second country of Egypt. We have seen we can't stay there because our lives were still in danger. We carried on searching and so reached Israel."