Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the "swift deportation" of 25,000 so-called illegal immigrants after demonstrations targeting immigrants in Tel Aviv.
During a recent cabinet meeting Netanyahu ordered ministers to speed up efforts to deport immigrants from South Sudan, the Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Ethiopia.
However, he admitted that it is not possible to deport immigrants from Eritrea and Sudan who have fled persecution in their home countries, as Israel is a signatory of the 1951 convention that prevents refugees from being repatriated in such conditions.
The government is speeding up the building of a detention centre in the Negev desert to accomodate refugees who cannot be deported.
Tel Aviv has seen weekly violent demonstrations purporting to be against immigration and the homes of African immigrants in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have suffered arson attacks.
On Sunday, Member of the Knesset Aryeh Eldad attempted to diffuse reactions to a statement he made during a tour of the site of a border fence being erected along Israel's Egyptian border that anyone seen attempting to breach the fence should be shot.
The southern Sinai border is the main port of entry for migrants from places such as Sudan and Eritrea.
Out of the 1,500 requests for asylum registered with the Israeli government between 2009 and 2011, two were accepted. It also has taken measures to prevent companies from employing anyone classified as an illegal migrant.