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
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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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.”