Dozens of protesters tried to move from the Hatikva neighborhood, where the rally was held, towards Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood, where most African refugees live. They were stopped by police. Protesters attacked a car passing by carrying African immigrants, smashing its windows. Shops associated with the African community were vandalized. As of midnight Israel time, activists in Hatikva are still reporting looting and occasional attacks on Africans.…
An African man who was attacked following a rightwing rally in Tel Aviv, May 23, 2012 (photo: Oren Ziv/activestills)
Originally published ar 6:13 pm CST 5-23-2012
More than 1,000 Israelis protested this evening (Wednesday) against the African refugees and asylum seekers who have settled in South Tel Aviv in recent years. According to eyewitnesses reports, the crowd grew angry and ultimately violent, following speeches from Knesset Members, including members of the government coalition.
It was one of the most violent protests Tel Aviv has known in recent years. Confrontations were continuing between police and Jewish citizens at around 10:30 p.m. local time.
Dozens of protesters tried to move from the Hatikva neighborhood, where the rally was held, towards Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood, where most African refugees live. They were stopped by police. Protesters attacked a car passing by carrying African immigrants, smashing its windows. Shops associated with the African community were vandalized. [UPDATE: As of midnight, activists in Hatikva are still reporting looting and occasional attacks on Africans.]
In light of increasing violence and harassment in recent days, activists walked refugee children in Tel Aviv home from school on Wednesday in order to prevent them from potential attacks.
According to Maariv’s website, the mob chased a man from Eritrea, who took shelter in a storefront and was rescued by police. At least two journalists were attacked. One fled the area and the other, whose notepad was snatched by protesters, was sheltered by the cops…
Ha'aretz reports that 9 Israelis were arrested, some of them while they were beating Sudanese refugees.
Ynet has the number of arrests at 17: Fifteen for rioting and assault, and two others for looting a store owned by refugees.
It also reports that speakers asked participants not to take the law into their own hands. However, during the demonstration, MK Miri Regev (Likud) called the refugees "a cancer in our society.” MKs Danny Danon, Yariv Levin (Likud) and Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) also made inflammatory statements.
Iincitement against the refugees over the past two years has come primarily from Zionist Orthodox and haredi rabbis along with right wing politicians, including those who spoke at the rally that preceeded the looting, riot, beatings and vandalism Wednesday night.
Ha'aretz reports that remands were extended today for two members of a gang police believe systematically targeted African refugees. The 11-member gang was allegedly set up to attack the refugees, especially refugees from Sudan and Eritrea. The gang’s nine other members are all minors and will therefore be tried in juvenile court. All of the gang’s members are from south Tel Aviv.
It also reports that Tel Aviv’s mayor, Ron Huldai, launched a campaign today calling for African refugees to be imprisoned and deported. Huldai funded the campaign himself. Six other mayors have signed on to the campaign, including Yehiel Lasry of Ashdod, Yaakov Asher of Bnei Brak, Benny Vaknin of Ashkelon, Yitzhak Ohayon of Petah Tikva, and Meir Yitzhak-Halevi of Eilat.
[Hat Tip: Shish.]