The operation to deport illegal infiltrators was put into motion on Sunday and Monday as the Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) arrested dozens of illegal residents in south Tel Aviv and Eilat. "If they stay here then we can tear up the declaration of independence. Democracy is not a recipe for suicide," Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) told Israel Hayom on Sunday. "We must relay a determined message with a fence, army, punishing employers and deportation. If we don’t do take these measures, it will mean the end of the Zionist dream," he said.
According to Yishai, Sunday's arrests were the first step in a process to deport all illegal infiltrators: "I'm waiting for approval from the Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry about the infiltrators from Eritrea, who comprise the largest mass of infiltrators at 35,000 — and the north Sudanese, of which there are 15,000. I can promise that the security situation in Eritrea is much better than in Sderot. I'm not the Sudanese Welfare Minister and I'm not the Finance Minister for Eritrea. I'm the Interior Minister for the State of Israel and I have no other country. We must maintain the Jewish majority. It's them or us."
Following last week's court ruling that there is no legal roadblock to prevent deportation, PIBA arrested eight South Sudanese natives on Sunday, as well as three Thais, three Nigerians, three Sri Lankans, two natives of Ghana, two from the Ivory Coast, two Romanians, one from Gambia and one Moldovan.
PIBA, meanwhile, announced on Sunday that there were 1,500 infiltrators in Israel from South Sudan and another 2,000 from the Ivory Coast. According to a PIBA statement, "Any South Sudanese citizen who wishes to leave on his own accord without being arrested can report to Unit for Voluntary Departure within the next week and they will receive assistance."
In response, hundreds of infiltrators and refugees from Sudan, Eritrea and Darfur protested the first deportations on Sunday in Tel Aviv. The protesters marched from Levinsky Park to the United Nation's representative's office while chanting "We need protection" and "We are not criminals."
Ahmed Aboudi from Darfur said "We are also scared to walk the streets here because of the Israelis' anger and we have no where to go back to. We are asking for only a little consideration and understanding."
Meanwhile, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a proposed bill on Sunday put forth by MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), which allows for more severe punishment of Israelis who illegally employ, provide lodging to or aid infiltrators or illegal Palestinian residents in Israel.
According to the proposed law, the penalty for anyone who employs infiltrators or illegal residents would be extended jail time of up to five years, instead of the maximum two-year sentence stipulated currently. In addition, the proposed bill allows for fines of up to half a million shekels.
Akunis called the proposal a "very significant step on the path to solving the infiltrator issue, which is the most burning social problem in Israel today. The law will negate the main incentive that infiltrators have when they come here, which is to find work. Once there is no longer an incentive to employ infiltrators and there is no longer an incentive for Israelis to give them lodging and rent apartments for them, the message will be transmitted very quickly and they will understand that there is no point in coming to Israel."
In related news, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality on Sunday passed the required legislation to create a local police force responsible for maintaining security, safety and public order, to be funded by a special tax paid by the city's residents. As was first reported by Israel Hayom two weeks ago, the new tax that residents will have to pay is expected to fund a force of 150 patrolmen and 30 vehicles that will provide around-the-clock protection throughout the city.