Israelis Riot Against African Immigration
More than 1,000 Israelis rioted in the Tel Aviv neighborhood of Haktiva against illegal African immigrants last Wednesday, smashing store front windows and cars and calling for the removal of asylum seekers in Israel.
Crying out “the people want the Sudanese deported” and “infiltrators get out of our home,” the Israeli rioters also burned garbage cans. One group stopped a shuttle taxi and searched it for African immigrants, and smashed the windows of cars being driven by Black people. The windows of a grocery store and barbershop serving the immigrant community, as well as an Ethiopian restaurant, were broken by the demonstrators.
Police arrested 17 people in the riot, most of whom were beating African immigrants.
Wednesday’s riot started out as a peaceful protest that was attended by several right-wing MP’s, including Likud MK Miri Regev, who said that “the Sudanese were a cancer in our body.”
Some demonstrators carried signs supporting Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who called for the detention and expulsion of all asylum seekers earlier this week.
The demonstration-turned-riot came days after Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gave an ominous warning that the influx of tens of thousands of Africans into Israel since 2005 is “threatening the fabric of Israeli society, its national security and its national identity.”
The “60,000 infiltrators are liable to become 600,000, and lead to the eradication of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” Netanyahu said.
The PM’s comments were followed up on Wednesday by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who said before the riot that he supported the mass deportation of South Sudanese migrants if an investigation will find that they are not legally entitled to refuge.
The day after riot, Likud MK Danny Dannon told Haaretz that he wanted the immediate removal of African immigrants from population centers and have them placed in detention centers – for their own security.
“The infiltrators must be distanced immediately,” he said. “We must expedite the construction of temporary detention facilities and remove Africans from population centers.”
National Union MK Michael Ben Ari, who has frequently called for the expulsion of African immigrants from Israel, said that although he was “very upset by the violence,” he also was glad to see his campaign gain momentum.
“Suddenly we see MK’s from Likud and Kadima showing up at protests,” Ben Ari said. “Suddenly I hear the Interior Minister saying things I’ve said myself.”
Netanyahu distanced himself from the violence, although he said he “understands the pain” of the Israelis living in Haktiva.
“The problem of the infiltrators must be solved and we will solve it,” he said. “We will complete construction of the fence within a few months and we will soon begin repatriating infiltrators back to their countries of origin.
“However, I would like to make it clear that there is no place for either the expressions or the actions that we witnessed last night. I say this to the public at large as well as to the residents of south Tel Aviv whose pain I understand.
“We will solve the problem and we will do so responsibly.”