Israelis wear surgical masks during a protest against the presence of refugees in their neighborhoods to symbolize their belief that Africans carry contagious diseases. (Photo: Mya Guarnieri)
Approximately 50 south Tel Aviv residents protested last night against the presence of African asylum seekers in their neighborhoods.
Protesters waved Israeli flags and held signs that read “I voted for Bibi and I got screwed,” “We want a solution here and now,” and “Bibi, you asked [for us] not to take the law into [our] hands. What have you done?” Another sign punned on the Hebrew word for minister (sar) to declare Interior Minister Eli Yishai a “Tzar” who will face “Judgment Day.”
The group marched to the police station in Jaffa and called on the state to deport African refugees.
Some of the demonstrators wore surgical masks. Protesters explained that they were meant to symbolize that Africans carry contagious diseases, a claim Yishai made in 2009.
The protest was smaller than previous demonstrations of its kind, giving the impression, perhaps, that things have quieted down. But there have nonetheless been isolated incidents of violence against African asylum seekers in recent weeks. In early June, following the May 23 race riots in south Tel Aviv that left dozens of Africans injured, a Sudanese refugee was attacked in south Tel Aviv. According to the Hotline for Migrant Workers, the injuries were so severe the man had to be hospitalized.
Less than two weeks ago, a Jerusalem apartment that is home to Eritrean refugees was set on fire. Two people were injured in the attack, including a pregnant woman.
Israel is home to around 60,000 African asylum seekers, a majority of whom have fled to Israel from Eritrea and Sudan. The state is currently deporting South Sudanese and Yishai and other government officials have vowed to rid the country of Africans. A massive prison camp for Africans is currently being built in the south of Israel.