Interior Ministry Orders 49 African Hebrews to Leave the Country

Forty-nine members of the African Hebrew Israelite community recently received letters from the Interior Ministry ordering them to leave the country within 60 days, after they had sought to regularize their residency status in Israel. According to Haaretz, many of them have lived in Israel without any legal status for more than 20 years – including people who were born in the country.

Members of the African Hebrew Israelite community in Dimona

Members of the African Hebrew Israelite community in Dimona (Photo: Dimona Municipality)

Last April, dozens of members of the vegan religious community in Israel received deportation orders from the government, even though much of the community has in the past received permanent residency. The community, which numbers around 3,000, is made up of Black Americans who believe they are descendants of an ancient Israelite tribe. Most live in the southern desert town of Dimona. The African Hebrew Israelites began arriving in Israel in 1969, following Ben Carter, a Chicago steelworker who renamed himself Ben Ammi Ben Israel

The Interior Ministry granted many members of the community temporary residency in 1992 and permanent residency status in 2003. Many members born in Israel, study in Israeli schools and serve in the military. Members of the community have different levels of immigration status, some have full citizenship, some permanent residency and temporary residency, and some have no legal status.