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Riot breaks out at Eritrean demonstration against violence in South Tel Aviv

Eritreans noted that while some of them arrived to make new lives in Israel, others came just to find more lucrative work opportunities, and had no intention of building their lives in the Jewish state.

Eritrean migrants protest in front of the European Union embassy in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, calling for the European Union to try the Eritrean leadership for crimes against humanity, June 21, 2016. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Eritrean migrants protest in front of the European Union embassy in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, calling for the European Union to try the Eritrean leadership for crimes against humanity, June 21, 2016. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

An demonstration of Eritrean migrants in South Tel Aviv against violence erupted into rioting on Wednesday, leaving four people injured, one seriously.

The clashes erupted between Eritreans who support the controlling regime in Eritrea and those who oppose it.

Six people were arrested and security forces were sent to the area.

The fights occurred after four days of violent protests in Tel Aviv, during which several people were injured and arrested for smashing windows of cars and nearby stores, as well as rock-throwing against each other. Some Eritreans and their supporters subsequently gathered to call for an end to the violence, and for the overthrow of President Isaias Afwerki. Towards the end of the event, pro-Afwerki Eritreans arrived with rocks and sticks, and a brawl ensued.

During the riot, two additional demonstrations took place—one who supported the forced deportation of some 16,000 Eritreans, and the other against.

Former Minister of the Interior and Education ministries Gideon Sa’ar took to social media to express his outrage over the “absurd spectacle of street battles in Tel Aviv between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean regime,” and advocated returning them “to the homeland they are fighting over … in our streets.”

At a rally in support of the Eritreans in Israel, Shula Keshet, leader of the Residents of South Tel Aviv Against Deportation group, called on the police to stop the violence and to protect Israelis who oppose the deportation from “verbal abuse” by those who hope for deportation.

Ynet news reported that Eritrean Tomas Younes told the crowd that violent Eritreans in Tel Aviv’s streets “are people who the Eritrean embassy is sending to cause problems inside and around the community … so that the State of Israel will think we bring violence with us.” He said he left Eritrea to get away from violence, noting that he is “very sad that violence is entering south Tel Aviv.”

Eritreans noted that while some of them arrived to make new lives in Israel, others came just to find more lucrative work opportunities and had no intention of building their lives in the Jewish state. The asylum-seekers argued that the illegal workers are the source of threats and violence—and should be deported.

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