Illegal African migrants are no less a threat to Israel than Iran’s nuclear
weapons program, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Thursday.
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
in an abandoned building in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
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
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
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
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.