Beginning on Wednesday and continuing through Saturday night, mobs of right-wing Jewish Israelis have attacked the neighborhoods of African immigrants in the southern part of the city of Tel Aviv, throwing stones and bottles at residents and looting shops.According to an eyewitness report by a volunteer with the Hotline for Migrant Workers in Israel, “[a]fter a dose of racial incitement from the Members of Knesset who addressed them, Miri Regev, Danny Danon, Yariv Levin and Michael Ben-Ari, a handful of the protesters went on to attack Africans and stores owned by them in the Hatikva neighborhood. I arrived in the neighborhood with a camera to document what had happened.”
The eyewitness, identified as Elisabeth Tsurkov, said, “I saw a policeman protecting a group of Eritrean refugees after one of the family members was attacked with a glass bottle while carrying his son, who as a result was dropped to the ground…I saw the blood of a Sudanese refugee on the pavement after he was stoned by a group of Israelis chasing him. I saw a shop owned by an Eritrean refugee, which was looted after its storefront was broken.”
The string of attacks comes in the midst of increasing incitement against the non-white Israeli population, including indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel and African immigrants into the country, by Israeli politicians and party leaders. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently stated that the African immigrants, many of whom are refugees from war-torn regions, “threaten Israel’s social fabric”, and called for the implementation of policies that would refuse them services, deny them entry, and force the deportation of many who are living in Israel already.
In Tsurkov’s account of the events of the last few days, she wrote, “Some [of the Israeli attackers] called the refugees ‘cockroaches’, a woman said they should be killed and exterminated because non-Jews should not exist in the land of Israel, another of the residents said the refugees’ heads need to be cut like chickens, others simply thought ‘they should be deported back to Sudan.’ The hatred was also directed at the ‘leftists’ whom the residents blamed for the encroachment of refugees in their neighborhood.”
The Hotline for Migrant Workers called on the Israeli government to take responsibility for the situation of migrant workers in Israel, and allow for a legal process for refugees to be allowed to seek asylum in the Jewish state – a status which is currently denied to non-Jews.