Israel on Thursday began implementing a plan to expel tens of thousands of illegal African migrants by April, and officials are threatening to detain those who stay.
“This plan will get under way today,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, France 24 reported.
Under the program, some 38,000 migrants who entered the country illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, have until the end of March to leave. Each person will be given a plane ticket and $3,500 to do so. After the deadline has passed, this amount of money will decrease and those who continue to refuse to go will face arrest.
Holot, a facility in Israel’s desert south where migrants can stay when they’re not working is also set to be closed. Critics have likened Holot to an “open air prison” lacking basic amenities such as heat and medical care.
Israel’s interior ministry said Holot is currently holding 970 people.