Police on Saturday arrested an Eritrean migrant suspected of sexually assaulting a 14-yearold girl in the waters off a Tel Aviv beach.

Police said Sunday that the suspect, a 30-year-old Eritrean man, swam up to the victim while she was in the water off Tel Aviv’s Jerusalem Beach and began grabbing her in a sexual way against her will. The suspect pushed the girl’s head under water when she began to scream for help, but moments later bystanders came to her assistance and pulled the man away from her, police said.

Police who were patrolling the beach nearby came to the water and arrested the man.

The suspect was taken to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday, where his remand was extended by three days.

Over the past month there have been a series of rapes and sexual assaults allegedly carried out by African migrants against Israelis in the Tel Aviv area. The press reported the incidents in the days before a protest in the Hatikva neighborhood two weeks ago, in which residents – fed up with what they said is a phenomenon of rape and petty crime by African migrants – tore around the area vandalizing African-owned stores and assaulting African migrants.

Last Thursday, Ma’ariv printed an interview with Interior Minister Eli Yishai in which he said that dozens of women had been raped by African ‘infiltrators’ in south Tel Aviv recently and have decided not to go to police out of fear that people would think they had AIDS.

A UN official who spoke to The Jerusalem Post Thursday said that the organization knows of only 150 HIV carriers among the over 60,000 African migrants in Israel.

Last week, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court announced the decision to give a harsher than usual sentence of four and a half years to an Eritrean national convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime and aggravated robbery, saying that the decision was based on “establishing deterrence in the face of the high number of crimes among foreigners.”

In the sentencing verdict, the presiding judge wrote that while there were only a few cases of crime among foreigners, “over the past year the phenomenon has increased a great deal and now there is not a week that goes by that we don’t have a hearing dealing with a foreigner who committed a robbery or a violent offense.”

Last week, the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee released a report that said the crime rate among foreigners was lower than that of the general public, although there had been a rise over previous years.

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