Interior Minister Eli Yishai arrived at the Ben Gurion International Airport on Sunday evening, several hours before the first plane full of deported illegal aliens left Israel for their country of origin, South Sudan.
Speaking to reporters at the airport, Yishai said, “This is just the beginning. We are waiting for legal approval regarding Eritreans and North Sudanese, who, in fact, are the real problem.” There are over 60,000 African infiltrators in Israel, only about 1500 of whom are South Sudanese.
He added that only after the problem with Eritreans is solved it will be possible to say that the operation to remove infiltrators from Israel is a success, but added, “Until then the message has been becoming clearer, and the number of infiltrators who entered Israel over the weekend was the lowest since the beginning of this year.”
Yishai explained that all new infiltrators who come to Israel are taken directly into custody now and are not allowed to roam around cities. “Ultimately we are working to give a better feeling to the citizens of Israel; we do not operate out of xenophobia, but out of love for Israel,” he said.
Asked if he feels sorry for the deportees, Yishai said, “I do not downplay the pain of the families, but we must remember that they are going back to their home. When we came to Israel from different countries 60 years ago to establish the State, we came here to drain swamps.” Most of the deportees have said that they infiltrated into Israel to have better economic opportunities.
He added, “I understand their pain, but having to choose between the interests of Sudan and the interests of Israel, I choose Israel. I hope and announce that the citizens of North Sudan and Eritrea will also return to their countries. Eventually it will happen; we need to maintain our home, with all the sensitivity and pain involved.”
Yishai received unlikely support from one of the deportees, who said he was happy about returning home and thanked Israel for everything he received from it over the years.
“I left my home in southern Sudan in 1996 because of the war,” the deportee, Peter, said, according to Ma’ariv. “Today I go back and I'm glad I’m going back. There are people here who are upset, but we are starting down a new road today and I want to say thank you to Eli Yishai.”
Channel 2 News reported that 123 citizens of South Sudan boarded the plane, which was scheduled to leave Israel at 12:30 a.m. (local Israel time). The plane, which was leased by a Hungarian airline, is expected to land six hours later in Juba, capital of South Sudan.
Ahead of their Sunday evening flight to South Sudan, those who chose to voluntarily leave Israel received vaccinations at the airport, along with grants of $1,300 for each adult and $500 for each minor.
A representative of the Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority told Arutz Sheva that $1,000 should last a year in South Sudan.