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Photo by: Ben Hartman
Mayor to PM: Deal with migrants before it's too late
By BEN HARTMAN
07/05/2012
TA Mayor calls on Netanyahu take action to deal with African migrant issue; residents say they're purchasing pepper spray for protection.
 
Against the backdrop of two recent firebombings on the African community of south Tel Aviv, Mayor Ron Huldai has called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to take immediate action.

In the letter, Huldai classified the situation in south Tel Aviv as “exploding today before our eyes.”

“Extremists are exploiting the desperation of the area, which is declining into violence, racism and crime – the peak of which we witnessed over the past weekend,” he wrote. “The government of Israel must enact immediate decisions before it is too late.”

On Monday, Huldai posted the letter to Netanyahu on his Facebook page, which he penned on April 29 – two days after four different buildings housing African migrants, including a kindergarten, were hit by Molotov cocktails thrown by unknown assailants. In a separate incident on Saturday night, two Molotov cocktails were thrown at a three-story house in the Hatikva neighborhood, inhabited by migrants from Nigeria.

In the letter, Huldai said: “I am turning to you again as the head of the government of Israel, to take responsibility for the desperate and difficult situation that the residents of the city are forced to deal with every day.”

He maintained that the city cannot wait until construction is finished on the Egypt border fence, warning that Tel Aviv needs help dealing with the thousands of “migrants and infiltrators” already in the city, who if left to their own devices will eventually turn to crime.

“Tens of thousands of migrant workers and infiltrators are already here, thousands more join them every month, and no one in the government is taking responsibility for dealing with them,” Huldai said. “It is impossible to ignore their needs as human beings and to expect that they won’t turn to crime.”

Placing the onus on the Israeli government, he said the city does not have the necessary resources to deal with the issue and called on the state to provide essential budgetary supplements.

The letter provided no suggestions for how the state can respond to the issue, but offered the help of city officials in formulating policies and programs.

The city said on Monday that they have yet to receive a response from Netanyahu or his office.

The south Tel Aviv residents’ working committee sent a letter to Netanyahu on Sunday, saying that due to “increased violence and the neglect of the police,” they have decided to purchase protective gear and pepper spray to help defend against what they called a wave of violence directed at veteran residents by African migrants in the city’s south.

The letter was penned by Shlomo Maslawi, Tel Aviv city councilman and working committee head, who said the purchase of the gear is “a desperate attempt by residents of the south to return the sense of security that they have lost entirely.”

The letter asks Netanyahu to end the government’s “eyes-shut policy on infiltrators,” and provide assistance to the undermanned police. “Rape, robbery, violence and verbal slurs have become daily routine without any response from authorities,” Maslawi wrote. “The police say they can’t deal with the situation.

This is an impossible situation that represents a total failure by the government.”

The letter also calls on Netanyahu to declare a national state of emergency to deal with the migrant issue.

Maslawi told The Jerusalem Post that residents are not yet certain how much pepper spray or protective gear they will acquire, but that they are looking for donors who can help supply the gear and have called on the municipality to provide funding.

He said that the pepper spray will first be given to the elderly and young girls, who are most in need of means for self-defense.

There are over 50,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, according to government figures. According to the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, around 7,000 people have infiltrated Israel’s southern border since the beginning of 2012.
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