Violence took to the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel, on Saturday during a protest against a cultural event held by the Eritrean embassy. About 160 protesters and 60 police officers were injured, according to local authorities.
#VIDEO | Violent clashes broke out between Eritrean asylum seekers in Tel Aviv on Saturday. 160 protesters and 60 police officers were injured. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the rioters to be deported. pic.twitter.com/gDyU67q3sr
— VOZ (@Voz_US) September 4, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the next day that he intends to deport immigrants who participated in the riots. "What happened yesterday crossed a red line," the prime minister said during the emergency meeting with the special ministerial team. He communicated his intention to deport the violent protesters. "This disturbance, the bloodshed, these are things that we cannot tolerate."
I would also like this forum to prepare a complete and updated plan to repatriate all of the remaining illegal infiltrators from the State of Israel; this is the purpose of our meeting today.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the special ministerial team to evaluate ways to handle infiltrators who violate the law, in the wake of yesterday's disturbances and violent events in Tel Aviv.
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) September 3, 2023
Police said they arrested 39 suspects. They seized "weapons, tear gas, and electrical stun guns." The BBC later reported that an investigation has been opened to determine whether the use of live ammunition by law enforcement was legitimate. Members of the police claimed that they had felt that their lives were in danger.
Police forces have regained control, and calm has returned to the streets in the southern Tel Aviv area. Large forces are currently continuing to make arrests and maintain order
— Israel Police (@israelpolice) September 2, 2023
Anti-government groups headed to the Eritrean embassy in Tel Aviv to express their disapproval of the celebrations scheduled to honor the Eritrean regime. "Why did we run from our country? Because of this dictator. ... Why did the Israel police give them a permit to celebrate this dictator?" one protester told Al Jazeera. These groups, which oppose authoritarian leader Isaias Afwerki, clashed with pro-government groups in the streets. The riots occurred during a celebration of Eritrea's independence after a war with Ethiopia. In the 30 years that have passed since then, only one man has led the country: Afwerki.
It is not the first time that these events end in violence from the Eritrean diaspora. Three weeks ago in Toronto, Canada, authorities canceled a weekend of celebrations of Eritrean culture due to clashes that resulted in nine hospitalizations. Something similar had already happened in Sweden and, according to some reports, in Seattle.