Conflicts & War

Israel to “encourage” Eritrean “infiltrators” to leave after riots in Tel Aviv

Jerusalem, Sept 10 (EFE) – The Israeli government on Sunday presented a nearly eight-million-dollar plan to encourage Eritrean asylum-seekers to leave the country and to repair the areas it considers affected by this African community, following the riots that broke out in Tel Aviv last week.

After a meeting this Sunday, the Israeli right-wing government cabinet “submitted for approval a detailed plan of about 30 million shekels ($7.8 million) to address the problem of infiltrators,” a term it has used to refer to Eritreans on Israeli territory.

The budget will be used to “encourage infiltrators to leave, strengthen veteran citizens, rebuild damaged synagogues, help students and youth, and more,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement released by the government press office.

“The special plan will strengthen south Tel Aviv and other places where there are illegal infiltrators,” he added.

On 2 September, at least 170 people were injured, including 30 police officers, when clashes between supporters and opponents of the Asmara government escalated into violent clashes with police.

The riots broke out when a group of Eritreans boycotted an event at their country’s embassy in south Tel Aviv by throwing boards and stones, smashing nearby shops and setting fires. The police used tear gas, stun grenades and even gunfire to disperse them.

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu said his government, the most right-wing in Israel’s history, would consider “measures to deport” “illegal infiltrators.”

On Tuesday, 51 Eritreans allegedly involved in the riots were detained without being charged or brought to trial.

In addition to encouraging Eritreans to leave Israel, the government plan unveiled on Sunday calls for “increasing personal resilience, which will benefit women living in areas with high concentrations of infiltrators”.

“The plight of residents of neighbourhoods saturated with infiltrators is a problem (…) citizens who are worried about the safety of their children and elderly parents, live in a harsh reality. This is unacceptable,” said National Resilience Minister Yitzhak Waserlauf.

An estimated 25,000 Eritreans live in Israel, mostly in Tel Aviv. They are asylum seekers in a legal limbo, with temporary permits to stay but no refugee status.

The Eritreans currently in Israel entered the country clandestinely, crossing from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

This influx was cut off a decade ago when Israel completed the construction of a 230-kilometre (150-mile) wall on its border with Egypt, with the stated aim of preventing the unauthorised entry of Africans considered by the authorities to be “infiltrators.”

Clashes between Eritreans have occurred in Israel before. In 2020, one person was stabbed to death.

There have been no elections since Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia 30 years ago, and the local government requires exit visas for its citizens to leave the country. Many are also subject to compulsory military service, which can last for years, one of the reasons why hundreds of thousands of people have fled abroad. EFE yo/ics

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