Associated Press= JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has flown home 150 illegal Sudanese migrants in a secret operation that was the largest such deportation from the Jewish state, an Israeli official confirmed Tuesday.
The group, which left late Monday, was the biggest to leave since Israel began quietly deporting hundreds of African migrants a few years ago. The deportations are part of an attempt to stanch the influx of Africans slipping across Israel's porous southern border with Egypt.
The Sudanese left willingly, according to officials.
"We are aware that people expressed interest to go back," said William Tall, an official from the U.N. refugee agency. "I can confirm that no coercion was involved in their going back."
There was no official Israeli comment. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, said a Christian organization helped coordinate the return of 150 Sudanese to Sudan via a third unidentified country.
It was the first time a special flight was arranged for African migrants to leave Israel, the official said. Migrants have previously been deported on commercial flights.