They endured a dangerous and desperate journey to escape war, persecution and hunger in their African countries.
The refugees, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, travelled through Egypt seeking a better life in Israel. But the government calls them "infiltrators" and says they threaten what it calls Israel's "Jewish character".
Israel's government has begun issuing deportation orders, and warning refugees they either accept money and a plane ticket home, or risk being jailed.
But is this action legal?
Presenter: Jane Dutton
Robbie Sabel, Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Sigal Rozen, Head of public policy at the Tel Aviv-based Hotline for Refugees and Migrants
William Spindler, Spokesman for the United Nations High Commisoner for Refugees