Anti-African riot sparks migrant dispute

2012-05-24 20:51
Jerusalem - Violent race riots that shook southern Tel Aviv overnight sparked shock in Israel on Thursday, but also prompted top-level calls for the immediate arrest and expulsion of tens of thousands of African migrants.

The latest unrest to sweep the impoverished neighbourhoods around Tel Aviv's central bus station erupted when a demonstration of around 1 000 people who were protesting against the rising number of Africans moving into the area turned violent.

"Shock, violence and hatred of foreigners in Tel Aviv" was the headline in the Maariv daily, which described scenes of chaos as demonstrators went on the rampage with sticks and stones, attacking African-run shops and smashing up a car driven by two African men.

"Blacks out!" shouted demonstrators in the crowd, while others yelled "Send the Sudanese back to Sudan," several media reports said, as other protesters derided the "bleeding-heart leftists" working to help them.

Racist speeches

Most reports said the rally turned nasty after the crowd was whipped up by several racist speeches by right-wing MPs, several of them from the ruling Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The infiltrators are a cancer in our body," Likud MP Miri Regev told the crowd, as fellow MP Danny Danon shouted: "The infiltrators must be expelled from Israel! Expulsion now!"

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 20 people had been arrested on suspicion of vandalising shops and attacking cars driven by Africans, but added that there were no reports of anyone being injured.

The police have also extended the remand of seven Israeli minors accused of attacking African immigrants earlier this week, he said.

Interior ministry statistics show there are more than 60 000 African immigrants living illegally in Israel.

Some are asylum seekers fleeing persecution, while others are economic migrants. Almost all of them sneak across the border from the Egyptian Sinai and end up living in the run-down neighbourhoods around Tel Aviv's bus station.

The issue of illegal immigration from Africa has thrown into relief sharp divisions within Israel, with many top officials, including Netanyahu, warning that their growing numbers pose a major threat to the security and identity of the Jewish state.

Demands

Despite the violence, Interior Minister Eli Yishai demanded on Thursday that all illegal African immigrants be put "behind bars" before kicking them all out.

"We must put all these infiltrators behind bars in detention and holding centres, then send them home because they come and take work from Israelis," he told army radio.

Unless the government took urgent action, there would "soon be half a million to a million, and we cannot lose our country to this," said the minister, who has frequently called for the expulsion of non-Jewish immigrants, sparking cries of racism.

Wednesday night’s violence made headlines in all the main Hebrew-language newspapers, as well as on the TV and radio stations, with army radio denouncing it as a mob attack directed against a minority group.

As a fierce debate raged across the air waves and on Internet forums, a Tel Aviv court indicted two African migrants from Sudan and Eritrea on suspicion of raping a woman near the central bus station last week.

Last week, an Israeli was charged with arson after he threw Molotov cocktails at the homes of African migrants in southern Tel Aviv in a move reportedly connected to the arrest of three Eritreans in connection with the rape of a 15-year-old Israeli girl.

Allowing work

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai told public radio that crime among the immigrants could be curbed by allowing them to work.

If the government "lets illegal immigrants live in the city, we must give them the means to survive by giving them work," he said in comments echoing remarks made last week by Israeli police chief Yohanan Danino, which sparked a political outcry.

Meanwhile, Israel's Peace Now movement said it had approached the attorney general to prosecute the two Likud MPs who attended the demonstration for "incitement to racial hatred."

In a bid to halt the influx of immigrants from Africa, Israel has been building a 250km fence along the Egyptian border. It has also built a vast detention centre near the border to house anyone caught crossing the frontier.

At the start of the year, Netanyahu said he was planning to visit several African capitals to discuss the issue of immigration, but so far no such plans have been made public.

- SAPA
Read more on:    israel  |  immigrants  |  racism
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
82 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Travel
 

LOL treadmill fail!

Watch this hilarious clip! We think this man should rather be running outside this summer!

 
 

I love summer.24

Google’s top searches of 2014
10 of the strangest Christmas traditions around the world
2014's best drone videos
7 drinks you need to make this party season

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

15% off LEGO

Save 15% when you buy 2 or more Lego toys. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Any chance to explore the distant shores of things yet to be found will fascinate you. The challenge is dealing with the issues...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.