Dozens protest in Tel Aviv against African migrants following rape
TEL AVIV, Dec 31, 2012 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
Several dozen Israelis protested
in south Tel Aviv on Monday evening against African migrants
following the alleged rape of an 83-year-old woman by an Eritrean
The protesters marched near the Tel Aviv central bus station
led by far-right lawmaker Michael Ben Ari from the Ozma Le'Israel
(Force to Israel) Party, who had spearheaded similar protests in
May and June.
"I call to issue a temporary order to deport all the
infiltrators back to Africa," Ben Ari said.
The area, home to thousands of labor migrants and asylum
seekers who illegally entered Israel from across the Egyptian
border, has become an epicenter of cheap migrant housing, drug
trafficking and prostitution over the past decade.
Yaffa Cohen, 42, a resident of south Tel Aviv, said she was
scared of the migrants in the streets. "They walk around here
drunk at night, I'm afraid to go out. I'd like to see all the
people that call us racists take them in and live near them."
Eritrean and Sudanese refugees living in the area expressed the
same kind of fear over the different kind of violence. "I chose
not to go to work today, I was too scared," an Eritrean woman who
asked to remain anonymous told Xinhua on Monday.
"Last time, my friend's store was broken into, they just look
at us with so much hate. They think ... we're all thieves. That's
not true. There are rapists and thieves everywhere. But they've
decided we're to blame, so what can you do about it "
The Association of Human Rights in Israel called 2012 a record
in incitement against African migrants, after dozens of attacks
targeting migrants occurred.
The fuse for the fresh round of protests, the Eritrean
assailant, in his early 20s, has been arrested by the police,
Israeli media reported Monday.
The man spotted the woman leave her apartment near the city's
central bus station and pulled her to a courtyard before he
repeatedly raped and beat her for hours, police spokesman Mickey
Rosenfeld told Xinhua.
Rosenfeld, however, noted that the majority of incidents that
take place there and involve migrants are mostly petty crimes:
stealing cellular phones and alcoholic beverages from kiosks.
"Rape is a very rare incident, especially that of an elderly
woman," he said.
According to year-end government data released on Monday,
10,300 African migrants crossed into Israel from its border with
Egypt in 2012.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, an outspoken advocate of harsh
legal measures to stem the tide of asylum seekers, announced in
May the "Going Home" repatriation program, citing the demographic
threat to the Jewish character of the state. Since the program's
inception, nearly 2,000 South Sudanese have been deported.
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