S. TA residents protest African migrants at Barak's home

Most of the protesters came from the depressed neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv where the majority of the migrants in the city reside.

January 25, 2011 21:19
2 minute read.
Anti-migrant protesters at Barak's house

Anti-migrant protesters at Barak's house 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

Shouting “Barak wake up!” and “We want security now!” over a hundred protesters gathered outside Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s house in north Tel Aviv on Tuesday, to protest what they called Barak’s reluctance to take action to stop the influx of African migrants across Israel’s porous southern border with Egypt.

Most of the protesters came from the depressed neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv where the majority of the migrants in the city reside. Many of the protesters related that the influx of migrants has made the social services and quality of life in their neighborhoods decline rapidly, and has brought with it a step rise in crime.

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Hatikvah resident Ariel Zechariya, 51, said the demonstration was held outside of Barak’s residence because the defense minister “is responsible for the security of Israel and the protection of the border and we believe he isn’t doing his job.”

“This is not the responsibility of the police; the defense of our country’s national borders is the responsibility of the army.”

Zechariya, a lifelong resident of Hatikvah, long a disadvantaged district of Southern Tel Aviv, described the neighborhood as “a weak area to begin with, and now they’re bringing in more and more people who don’t have anything to eat.”

Zechariya said landlords are buying up houses in the neighborhood in order to turn them into high-occupancy residences for African migrants forced to live in inhumane conditions.

“The conditions are unbelievable; you or I wouldn’t live in these houses. These [the migrants] are people just like you and I and you see the way they’re living here, without work, without food, it’s a situation that leads to crime.”

One of the organizers of the demonstration, 29-year-old Yaniv Israelov, said the protest was held because the government is not doing enough to deal with the growing number of African migrants in Israel.

“Every day the concentration [of refugees] grows in south Tel Aviv, threatening our personal security,” Israelov said Tuesday.

A life-long resident of South Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood, Israelov said residents are suffering harassment and violence at the hands of “infiltrators”, mentioning the case of an 84-year-old woman who told police she was hit over the head and mugged by a foreign migrant outside her home in the Hatikva neighborhood earlier this month.

Israelov said that while the neighborhood is safe during the day, people are afraid to leave their homes at night, when he said, the migrants drink alcohol and cause disturbances.

Israelov added that the migrants “aren’t to blame, it’s the government’s fault, they aren’t dealing with the issue. They aren’t checking who these people are, anything, they just take them and throw them in South Tel Aviv.”

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