A dozen Eritrean asylum seekers were wounded by Israeli police gunfire in Tel Aviv after a demonstration against an Eritrean government event turned violent, police and medical sources said.
Clashes began outside a venue in south Tel Aviv that was set to host an event organised by the Eritrean embassy in Israel.
Hundreds of anti-government Eritreans came to the site to prevent the event from taking place. Police declared the gathering an illegal demonstration and ordered the street to be emptied.
Protesters “hurled rocks and wooden planks” at officers, who used riot dispersal means and mounted forces to clear the Eritreans, some of whom vandalised shops in the area, police said.
“Officers who feared for their lives used live fire against rioters,” police said in a statement, noting that 27 of their members were wounded.
Police said they arrested 10 suspects “who assaulted police and threw stones” at officers.
Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital said it treated 38 people wounded in the clashes, including a dozen with gunshot wounds.
Police said they were reinforcing their personnel in the area, with reports of clashes between Eritreans and police, as well as between supporters and opponents of Eritrea’s regime, continuing elsewhere in south Tel Aviv.
As of June, there were 17,850 asylum seekers from Eritrea in Israel, most of whom arrived illegally through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula years ago.
They settled in a number of poor neighbourhoods in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, the country’s economic capital.
Eritrea has been led by authoritarian President Isaias Afwerki since its formal declaration of independence in 1993. It is one of the world’s most isolated states and sits near the bottom of global rankings for press freedom, human rights, civil liberties and economic development.