Chanting “The Left is a cancer,” “Deport the Sudanese” and “Leftists to Sudan,”
around 200 people gathered in south Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood on Wednesday
night to protest the growing population of African migrants in the
The rally came about a week after Israelis ran amok in the
Hatikva neighborhood, smashing African-run storefronts and attacking
asylum-seekers following an anti-migrant protest that around 1,000 people
Five protesters were arrested during Wednesday’s rally for
disturbing the peace, and one on suspicion of incitement.
giving an interview to a TV crew, vowed he was ready to serve a life sentence
for killing Sudanese if his friend Haim Mula is not released from jail, where he
is being held on suspicion of throwing Molotov cocktails at Africans’ homes in
Shapira last month.
Wednesday night’s protest began with a small
gathering outside the main entrance to the central bus station in the Neve
Sha’anan neighborhood, the center of the country’s African migrant and foreign
worker community. Police had only approved a protest of fewer than 50 people at
the site, and after it began, demonstrators began marching down the side streets
of Shapira, where the main rally took place.
Along the way, arguments and
shoving matches broke out between the marchers and counterprotesters who trailed the march. All the while, border policemen blocked
the street to prevent more counterprotesters from advancing.
activist Baruch Marzel organized the demonstration, which was not coordinated
with south Tel Aviv activist and city council member Shlomo Maslawi. Maslawi,
who has organized past antimigrant protests in the neighborhood, said that the
organizers had not contacted him to take part in or help arrange the
Leading the marchers on Wednesday night, Hatikva resident Meir
Turgeman, 52, said they aimed “to tell Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu]
not to fear the media, the left wing and the Supreme Court, and to listen to the
people and deport all of the Sudanese home now.”
Turgeman said his
16-yea-rold daughter did not feel safe at night, and that “all of our
neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv are under curfew after dark.”
oft-repeated complaint by veteran Tel Aviv residents, Neve Sha’anan native Sima
Nitzani, 42, said that “at night, [African migrants] steal bikes, steal cars,
rob people, and the police do nothing. We no longer feel safe at night, and the
government must kick all of them out now!” No Knesset members attended
Wednesday’s demonstration, unlike last week’s protest, at which Likud MK Miri
Regev said from the stage that the Sudanese migrants “are a cancer in the body
of the nation.”
The demonstration in Shapira appeared to be disorganized
and free-flowing, and mainly consisted of local families.
There are an
estimated 60,000 illegal African migrants in the country, most of them from
Eritrea and Sudan. Under international law, Israel cannot deport Eritreans to
their country, where they could face persecution, nor can it deport Sudanese to
Sudan, where they would be persecuted for having been in Israel, an enemy
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