Illegal African migrants are no less a threat to Israel than Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Thursday.

In an interview with Ynet, Yishai said the “the threat from infiltrators is no less severe than the Iranian threat. The incident today proved how much we have lost the sense of personal security for Israeli citizens.”

The incident in question was the arrest of two Eritrean men suspected of raping a 39-year-old Israeli woman in an abandoned building in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

Yishai’s spokesman confirmed Thursday that the minister sees the threat posed by illegal migrants as no less grave than the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, an issue which has taken the migrant topic off the front pages of the Israeli media over the past month.

The spokesman also confirmed that Yishai is pushing for the government to expand the detention centers in Israel’s south in order to eventually jail all of the estimated more than 60,000 illegal African migrants currently in Israel.

Such a facility would have to be several times larger than the one currently being built near Ketziot prison in the South.

The spokesman admitted that when it comes to the issue of deporting the migrants, such a move would require the agreement of the Foreign Ministry, which does not see eye-to-eye with the Interior Ministry on how to handle the migrant issue.

Yishai has made inflammatory statements about migrants several times in the past. In May he told Ma’ariv that in recent months dozens of women had been raped by “infiltrators” in south Tel Aviv but decided not to report the attacks so that people wouldn’t think they contracted AIDS.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Thursday extended by five days the remand of one of the two Eritreans arrested following the alleged rape on Wednesday morning. The second was arrested on Thursday and will be brought for a remand extension on Friday.

According to Tel Aviv Police, the 39- year-old woman was walking down Hamasger Street Wednesday morning when two Eritrean men allegedly stopped her and one said he needed help with his baby. Police said she followed them to the abandoned building and was then allegedly dragged inside by the two men, and raped by one of them while the other stood guard outside the building.

Police said the woman tried to flee at one point but was dragged back inside.

That same day police said they took the woman back to the scene of the crime, where she spotted one of the two suspects, who police say they took into custody where he confessed to his role in the crime.

Public defender Shiran Bergman, who is representing one of the suspects in the crime, said his defendant was outside of the building at the time the incident took place and had no role in whatever took place inside the building.

Rumors and reports of violent and property crime committed by African migrants in Tel Aviv have stoked tension and anti-migrant violence in the city in recent months.

Police reported Thursday that on Wednesday night two Sudanese men were walking down Ben-Gurion Street in Herzliya when they were approached by a group of teenage boys who asked them for a cigarette. When they refused, police said the boys attacked them with wooden and metal sticks, leaving one of them requiring medical assistance.

Police arrested one of the suspects, a 16-year-old resident of the city, shortly after the incident.

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