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Israel frees migrants pending deportation as Netanyahu struggles to placate coalition partners

Israel frees migrants pending deportation as Netanyahu struggles to placate coalition partners
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By Robert Hackwill
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Prime minister's hard-right allies want forced deportations but host countries hard to find.

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Israel has released a small number of some 200 African migrants it had detained ready for deportation. The group had been due to leave for Rwanda but a deal with the country to take them collapsed, and the others will also be freed unless a deal being negotiated with Uganda on Thursday is confirmed.

Over the last few days the government has switched positions several times as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has squirmed under the twin pressures of international partners asking Israel to respect commitments, and his hard-right coalition partners demanding more forced deportations, leaving some 37,000 estimated migrants in Israel, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, in limbo.

Protests have been organised against the detention and deportation of the migrants, and one young Eritrean man stated their case simply:

"We are grateful to the public of Israel because at least we have been living with them here more than a decade, we are very grateful for the public, but the government, the government alone has been tortured us terribly (…), Now also it is a psychological war. They use it for their own political issues, we refugees are demanding please stop torturing us, our mentality, we are human beings, we are human beings."

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