Police arrest two anti-migrant demonstrators in South Tel Aviv

Some 100 protesters in south TA call for deportation of asylum seekers

African migrants stand on their balconies 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
African migrants stand on their balconies 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Police arrested two protesters during an anti-migrant demonstration in south Tel Aviv on Saturday night.
The protest was organized by the “South Tel Aviv in Favor of the Deportation” group and was attended by some 100 activists.
Protesters marched through the streets of south Tel Aviv, where many asylum seekers live, waving Israeli flags and banners, singing and chanting. They blocked roads and caused disturbances and danger to traffic, police said in a statement released early Sunday morning.
Police noted that even though the demonstrators had not requested a permit from them to hold the protest, they nonetheless allowed it to go ahead for some time. When they were no longer able to allow the road blockages, they called on the demonstrators to clear the road within five minutes.
Addressing the protesters via a loudspeaker, an officer said that if they did not clear the road within that time they would be arrested.
After the allocated time, police arrested two of the protesters, who sat on the road with loudspeakers, refused to stand up and, according to police “posed a danger to themselves and others.”
Police took the two arrested protesters to the police station for questioning.
The protest organizers wrote on Facebook ahead of the demonstration: “After 10 years of foreign occupation, the time has come for the government, law enforcement authorities, the High Court of Justice, the media, the opponents of the expulsion and the infiltrators to realize once and for all that we will never give up on our home. We are Israelis and this is our flag. Blue and white.”
The group is against a deal which was reached between Israel and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), but then swiftly canceled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in early April, after he met with a group of residents of south Tel Aviv who opposed the agreement. The policy would have allowed some 16,000 of the African migrants to remain in the country, while another 16,000 would have been absorbed by other Western countries.
Interior Minister Arye Deri said last month that negotiations between Israel and the UN were ongoing to try to reach a new agreement.
A leader of the anti-migrants group wrote on the group’s Facebook page in response to a critic: “Politicians in this case are not leading us but we are leading them. The UN plan creates all the possible reasons for renewing the infiltration into Israel: What do the infiltrators have to lose if they know that if they reach Israel they will be absorbed or deported to Canada? It’s a win-win for them. And the fence will not stop them, most of the infiltration is via the sea.
“Thousands of infiltrators left voluntarily when they realized that it would not be easy here. With or without a third country, slowly and quietly thousands left,” the post continued, noting that the group demands that Israel reinstate the Holot detention facility for asylum seekers, which was closed in March.
Mutasim Ali, a law student, a prominent activist for asylum seekers and the first Darfuri to obtain refugee status in Israel in 2016, was present during the demonstration. He told The Jerusalem Post that activists shouted at him and he left the area at the request of police.
“Although they are very small group, police presence is more than the participants because they are violent, but they are backed by the whole government. They are pretty powerful,” Ali wrote on Twitter.
Last week, the state informed the High Court of Justice that it would grant protection visas to some 300 Sudanese asylum seekers from Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile region.
Unlike most of the 30,000-plus migrants in Israel the state is trying to deport or press to leave, the change means the state views the Nuba and Blue Nile Sudanese as having the same special persecuted status as the Darfurians in terms of having fled genocide.
Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.