The "Black Hebrews"
The "Black Hebrews"Flash 90

Dozens of families affiliated with a fringe movement in southern Israel have been ordered to leave the country or face deportation, the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem group announced Monday.

Prince Immanuel Ben-Yehuda, spokesman for the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, said Monday that the Israeli Interior Ministry has warned 46 families that they must leave the country within the next 60 days, or face expulsion.

Better known as the Black Hebrews or the Black Hebrew Israelites, the group is made up of some 3,000 African Americans who split off from the larger Black Hebrew movement in the US.

Starting in 1969, members of the group began moving to Israel, entering the country under tourist visas but remaining on without obtaining citizenship.

While the Black Hebrews claim to be descendants from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, the movement denies traditional Jewish canon – including the Talmud – and mixes elements of Christian doctrine, including belief in Jesus.

Israel has not recognized most of the members of the movement as being eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return, but in 1992 did grant some temporary residency status and permanent residency in 2003.

Since 2009, a few members have been granted citizenship.

“For quite some time, we’ve had a number of members of the community with different levels of immigration status, some of us have full citizenship, some taken permanent residency, some have temporary residency, and some have no status whatsoever,” Ben-Yehuda said.

The Interior Ministry confirmed that some members of the AHIJ had received deportation orders, noting they had been living illegally in Israel for years.

“All those who were not included in the list of community members and didn’t meet the criteria received a negative reply and in effect are residing illegally in Israel for a long period and must leave according to the law,” the ministry said, according to The Associated Press.