Israel’s High Court ordered a temporary halt to government deportations of illegal African migrants pending its response to a petition filed by asylum seekers on Thursday who said the deportations are being carried out against their will.
The court gave the state until March 26 to answer the claims, and deportations would be suspended until then.
In January, the government unveiled a plan to return the migrants to a third country where they were assured of being safe, giving them a choice between leaving voluntarily or facing indefinite imprisonment with eventual forced expulsion.
Critics of the plan have contested the government’s statements, saying that the returnees have been ill-treated, and that they are being forced to go against their will, despite official denials.
Thursday’s ruling will not apply to those who have already volunteered to leave Israel for an unnamed third country.