African migrant walks with suitcase in south Tel Aviv 370 (R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )
The Eritrean Embassy in Israel is advising migrants in Israel how to transfer
money back to Eritrea through a bank account in Germany, contrary to Israeli
law, which forbids such transfers, a group of Eritrean migrants said at a press
conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
The migrants called the press
conference the morning after a brawl involving dozens of regime opponents and
supporters at an event organized by the embassy at Kibbutz Kinneret on Saturday,
in which over a dozen people were wounded and around 15 arrested. They said that
the embassy gave instructions to migrants about how to transfer money and also
advertised real estate in Eritrea, telling them that it was a good opportunity
for them to build a house back in their home country.
A law passed
earlier this year makes it illegal for African migrants to transfer money out of
Israel to their home country, and assigns stiff penalties to people found
breaking this law, or Israelis found helping Africans wire money
The law stipulates that the transfer must be less than the minimum
wage in Israel divided by the number of months the person has been in the
There were several hundred migrants taking part in the press
conference on Saturday, activists in Tel Aviv said Sunday. They said a group of
around 60 regime opponents arrived and were accused of being “Ethiopian
instigators” by ambassador Tesfemariam Tekeste, at which time the say they were
The regime supporters and the ambassador said they were
peacefully holding the meeting when they were set upon by Eritrean men wielding
sticks and throwing rocks, with some wielding knives and screwdrivers.
the press conference in an events hall near the Tel Aviv central bus station,
regime opponents showed a pamphlet they say was being handed out by regime
supporters at the event the previous day, which showed details of a bank called
“Commerzbank” in Frankfurt. The pamphlet included a Swift code and details for
transferring money through the German bank to the Housing and Commerce Bank of
Eritrea, where they were told to specify that the money was meant for the “Urban
Development Eritrea – Housing Project 2013.”
For unclear reasons, the
pamphlets were in English, not Tigrinye.
The Eritrean government requires
citizens in the diaspora to pay a monthly tax in order to retain their passport
and that tax as well as money sent home by citizens outside the country are
major sources of revenue for the Eritrean government.
Attempts to reach
the Eritrean embassy in Israel on Sunday were unsuccessful.
In May, a
brawl broke out at a concert organized by the Eritrean embassy in Ramat Gan. The
embassy invited four singers to give a concert for Eritrean Independence Day,
with dozens of regime supporters and opponents brawling until the fights were
broken up by police.