Netanyahu to Seek to Deport All Migrants after Saturday Tel Aviv Clashes

Netanyahu to Seek to Deport All Migrants after Saturday Tel Aviv Clashes

Date:

What’s Happening

Saturday marked a bloody day in Israel’s Tel Aviv as rival groups of Eritrean migrants clashed nearby the Eritrean embassy, leaving 150 people injured, including 30 police officers. Images and videos began to surface of widespread fighting between the migrant groups, of people laying on the ground bloodied and bruised, and of damaged police cars.



The clashes took place nearby the Eritrean Embassy in Tel Aviv, who was holding an event marking the nations’ 30th independence day. Both supporters and opponents of the regime showed up to the event, which quickly spawned into violence between the two groups. Protestors also began to clash with police, who had set up barricades. Police were quick to deploy tear gas and stun grenades, and even used live fire when they say they felt their lives were endangered. Protestors threw rocks and planks of wood both at the police as well as the opposing group.


 


Of those injured, 11 of them were from gunshot wounds.



Eritrean opposition community groups had asked Israeli police to cancel the event, warning them that violence could occur. Tel Aviv Police Chief Kobi Shabtai stated that Israeli police had “adequately” prepared for the rally and potential counter-rally, saying they had “doubled the forces” securing the event.

“Unfortunately the masses simply swamped the forces there, hurled them aside and forced the officers to use live fire”.

The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department announced they would be performing an investigation into the use of live fire, prompting Shabtai to state that the police involved in the event had the police force’s full support in their measures.

The “North Korea of Africa”

Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia 30 years ago, and has been headed by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. Afwerki has brought notable internal development to Eritrea, raising literacy rates, increasing the paved road network coverage, raising the life expectancy, and lowering AIDS rates and malaria mortality rates. However, much of the internal development comes from citizens being conscripted into the military and being forced into civil development projects as slave labour. Any and all dissent is crushed, press is not free, and poverty is rampant. Those conscripted into the military may have their contracts extended indefinitely. Eritrea has largely cut itself off from the outside world, refusing all foreign aid, which Afwerki insists is designed to cripple Africa.


Eritrean President Afwerki (Photo from Reuters/Monicah Mwangi).

Eritrea has one of the worst human rights records in the world, and is one of the top nations for numbers of its populace in modern slavery. It’s extreme isolation has prompted many around the world to refer to the nation as the “North Korea of Africa”. Eritreans, if they wish to leave the nation legally, require an exit visa.

Several hundred thousand Eritreans have fled Afwerki’s regime.

Threats of Deportation

Illegal migrants are a significantly controversial topic in Israel. Previously, PM Benjamin Netanyahu and other Netanyahu-Aligned members of the government have made attempts to either pass legislation critics say is intended to coerce migrants into leaving, or to outright deport them. Oftentimes, Israel’s supreme court has struck down these attempts, and the riots have fueled Netanyahu’s ongoing push for judicial reform. Israel has also offered cash payments to those who agree to move to a nation within Africa.

“We want harsh measures against the rioters, including the immediate deportation of those who took part” -PM Netanyahu


An Israeli police car damaged during Saturday’s riots.

He called for the deportations amidst a special ministerial meeting which was called in the wake of the riots. In the same meeting, Netanyahu asked the ministers to later present him with plans “for the removal of all the other illegal infiltrators”.

For many of the migrants Israel sees a difficult path ahead, as technically under international law Israel cannot forcibly send they to their country of origin if their life or liberty may be at risk. Prior to his visit to Cyprus, however, he said his ministerial team will seek to deport 1,000 Eritrean government supporters who were involved in the riots.

“They have no claim to refugee status. They support this regime. If they support the regime so much, they would do well to return to their country of origin” -PM Netanyahu.

Israel presently has approximately 25,000 African migrants, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea. Israel’s recognition of them as asylum seekers is distinctly low, however, and oftentimes refers to them as economic migrants, who they say they have no obligation to keep.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. A part of the GoodHistory team.
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