Homeless African migrant on bench in south Tel Aviv 390 (R).
(photo credit: NIR ELIAS / Reuters)
Stormy winter weather expected this weekend could endanger the lives of the
dozens of homeless African migrants sleeping outdoors in south Tel Aviv’s
Levinsky Park, volunteers warn.
A number of NGOs and volunteers have been
visiting the park in the late evenings for the past week, cooking hot meals and
handing out blankets and winter clothing to the migrants.
The Tel Aviv
Municipality is providing food and clothing.
Uriel Levy of the Dror
Israel organization said the blankets and food are not enough to help the
homeless sleeping in the park near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, and that
city hall should open municipal bomb shelters to house them during the
The city said on Thursday morning that its municipal staff are
working to the best of their ability “to help the population of refugees and
infiltrators. As part of this, we have invested large sums in distributing
blankets, warm clothes, hot drinks and food for the refugees sleeping in the
streets. This distribution will be carried out every night in Levinsky Park
until the end of the winter.”
It added that the city’s social services
department is helping some 550 homeless people in the city, 64 percent of whom
are either drug addicts or alcoholics.
The city said that during the
winter months it invites those homeless people to temporary shelters where it
provides them with food, clothing, hot showers and a place to sleep.
also said it provides assistance for homeless people working in receiving
benefits from state authorities and in finding psychiatric treatment, job
placement and housing.
On his way to the park to deliver pots of lentil
and sweet potato soup on Thursday, volunteer Yigal Shtayim said he is doing his
part because the city is not at all taking care of their
“City hall prevents them from finding shelter, takes
away their food, their blankets, their ability to work,” he said. Shtayim added
that the state’s refusal to allow African migrants to legally work drives more
and more of them into the streets.
A homeless man reportedly died of
exposure on a street in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. A man named Gili told The
Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the deceased man was a homeless middle-aged
Ethiopian- Israeli named Yohannes (Yonatan) Barko with a wife and children in
Lod, who had spent much of the summer sleeping at the Levinsky Park protest tent
Gili said Barko, who at least one media report said was an African
asylum-seeker, was an alcoholic and that his drinking played a role in his
death. The Tel Aviv Police declined to say whether or not a man was found dead
of exposure last weekend. Magen David Adom was also unable to do so.
around 1 a.m. on Thursday, at least 50 African migrants huddled together under
the canopy of the playground at Levinsky Park. Each lay wrapped in at least one
blanket, and they covered every corner of the rubber floor like a human quilt.
Some 85% of African migrants are men, and this reporter did not see any women
sleeping in the park.
While most of the men were sleeping, many were up
talking with one another or playing songs on their cellphones.
or so Africans lay under the Levinksy Park library, and across the grass and the
benches of the park other migrants sought to sleep and to stay warm overnight.