* Israeli opinion divided over deportation plan
* Critics say plan detached from reality
* Govt deems migrants a threat to character of state
African migrants chosen for deportation from Israel were nervously awaiting a knock on the door or a tap on the shoulder on Tuesday as immigration officials rounded up hundreds for departure flights due to begin at the weekend.
"The people are very tense. It's pretty traumatic," said Jacob Berri, a spokesman for the South Sudanese community of migrants, the first to be repatriated under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emergency plan.
"There are children here who only speak Hebrew. They won't even know the language where they're going," Berri said.
Africans were being stopped on the street and issued deportation orders, he added. "About 100 more have been arrested this morning."
Many of the migrants have been working in hotels and restaurants, while others have been holding down manual jobs or working as contracted day labour. All of them were technically working illegally.
A columnist in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth called it "hysteria". Another in the same paper said the methods may be "needlessly brutal" but it was necessary.
Those detained were sent to the Saharonim detention facility in the Negev Desert, close to where they first entered Israel over the porous Sinai Desert border with Egypt.
The South Sudanese, whose country was established in 2011 after they fled civil war in Sudan five or six years ago, will be the first to be repatriated, under an agreement between South Sudan and Israel.They number only some 1,500.