Violence surged in the streets of Tel Aviv as a 1000-strong protest against African immigrants seeking asylum in Israel turned violent.
Residents of a low-income Tel Aviv neighbourhood descended to the streets, waving Israeli flags and chanting “Deport the Sudanese” and “Infiltrators get out of our homes” to protest against the increase of African migrants moving into the area and the country.
The protest rapidly turned violent and police arrested 17 people with charges ranging from assault to vandalism. Some of them were still beating up migrants when they were arrested.
Protesters in the Hatikva neighbourhood set trash cans alight, broke some stores window and attacked African migrants who were passing-by. They also attacked an African migrant driving through the area and broke his car’s windows.
Reports suggest the protesters targeted local shops known to have African migrants as customers.
Another group of demonstrators stopped a shuttle taxi searched for migrant workers among the passengers, while banging on the windows, the newspaper Haaretz reported.
The protesters were backed by Likud Knesset member Miri Regev who participated in the march and said “the Sudanese were a cancer in our body”, Haaretz ‘s report added.
Protesters complained about Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the asylum seekers “problem” with some even carrying banners in support of Interior Minister Eli Yishai.
Yishai had called for the detention and expulsion of all asylum seekers earlier this week.
Interviewing Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Israeli Army Radio likened the violence to pogrom attacks on Jews in 19th century Europe.
Yishai retorted by saying Sudanese and Eritreans migrants were responsible for a rise in crime.
“I cannot judge a man whose daughter gets raped. I cannot judge a young woman who cannot walk home,” said Yishai,
“I cannot under any circumstances judge people who get abused and harmed, and who are then confronted by the state, which says, ‘Why do you behave this way to the foreigners?’”
The protests came as last week, an Israeli man was charged with arson after he threw seven Molotov cocktails at the homes of African migrants.