By Ilan Lior and Tomer Zarchin
Some 1,000 protesters rallied in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood on Wednesday and called for the ousting of African asylum seekers from Israel.
Demonstrators attacked African passersby while others lit garbage cans on fire and smashed car windows.
Another group of demonstrators stopped a shuttle taxi and searched for migrant workers among the passengers, while banging on the windows.
The crowd cried “The people want the Sudanese deported” and “Infiltrators get out of our home.”
Likud MK Miri Regev participated in the protest and said that “the Sudanese were a cancer in our body.”
The protesters expressed their dismay with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the government’s dealings with the “problem” of asylum seekers. Some people carried signs in support of Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who called for the detention and expulsion of all asylum seekers earlier this week.
Following the protest, hundreds of people assembled in the main street of the Hatikvah neighborhood. Several protesters smashed the windows of a grocery store that served the migrant workers community, broke the windows of a barber shop and looted it.
Police arrested 17 people during the protest, with some of them detained while beating Sudanese migrants. Those arrested will be brought in before the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Thursday for an extension of their remand.
Earlier Wednesday, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said he supported the mass deportation of South Sudanese migrants if an investigation will find that they are not legally entitled to refuge.
Weinstein will argue next week before the Jerusalem District Court that there is no legal obstacle to the expulsions since individual checks will establish that none of them face any threat to their lives in South Sudan.
The Jerusalem District Court recently issued a temporary order prohibiting the migrants’ deportation until it rules on a petition filed by five human rights organizations against the state’s intent to deport the refugees.
Weinstein, who has expressed support for sending migrants from South Sudan back home, will ask the court to lift the temporary order preventing their expulsion.
The Foreign Ministry recently outlined its position regarding 700 South Sudan nationals staying in Israel; the government says there are as many as 3,000 here.
The position is based on a report by Ambassador Dan Shaham, who was sent to South Sudan in April to examine the situation and see if it was suitable to return the migrants.
The document says returning the South Sudanese nationals in general would not constitute a breach of international law, which prohibits a state from expelling foreign nationals if returning them to their home country presents a clear and immediate danger to their life.