Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu multiplied on Sunday his calls to prevent anymore immigration from Africa and to expatriate from Israel some 18,000 Eritrean immigrants living in the country. Other Cabinet ministers called for the immediate deportation of Eritrean immigrants.
The calls by Netanyahu and the ministers against the Eritrean immigrants came after a violent demonstration in the south of Tel Aviv on Saturday staged by the immigrants against a cultural festival organized by the Eritrean Embassy. Fifty-two people were detained by police over clashes that erupted between the demonstrators and supporters of Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki. More than 150 people were injured in the clashes, including police officers. Damage was caused to shops in the area, to private vehicles stationed there and to police cars. Some of the people detained had bats and tear gas in their possession.
Similar cultural festivals had been organized in recent months by Eritrean embassies in Germany, Sweden and Canada, and over there as well, the festivals generated violent demonstrations by Eritrean immigrants and refugees. The demonstrators claim the festivals serve as a means for the Eritrean government in Asmara to whitewash itself and push away criticism by the United Nations and many human rights organizations on human rights violations instigated by the government for three decades. The demonstrators also claim that the government collects funds through these festivals.
Activists within the Eritrean immigrant community in Israel had called on the local authorities to ban the festival, but police decided not to cancel the authorization accorded to the embassy for the event.