TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he wants Eritrean migrants involved in a violent clash in Tel Aviv to be deported immediately and has ordered a plan to remove all of the country’s African migrants.
The remarks came a day after bloody protests by rival groups of Eritreans in south Tel Aviv left dozens of people injured.
Eritreans supporters and opponents of Eritrea’s government faced off with construction lumber, pieces of metal and rocks, smashing shop windows and police cars.
Israeli police in riot gear shot tear gas, stun grenades and live rounds while officers on horseback tried to control the protesters.
The violence on Saturday returned to the fore the issue of migrants, which has long divided Israel. Its resurgence comes as Israel is torn over Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan, and supporters cite the migrant issue as a reason why the courts should be reined in, saying they have stood in the way of pushing the migrants out.
“We want harsh measures against the rioters, including the immediate deportation of those who took part,” Netanyahu said in a special ministerial meeting called to deal with the aftermath of the violence.
He requested that the ministers present him with plans “for the removal of all the other illegal infiltrators,” and noted in his remarks that the Supreme Court struck down some measures meant to coerce the migrants to leave.
Under international law, Israel cannot forcibly send migrants back to a country where their life or liberty may be at risk.
Ahead of an official visit to Cyprus, Netanyahu said the ministerial team was seeking to deport 1,000 supporters of the Eritrean government who were involved in Saturday’s violence.
“They have no claim to refugee status. They support this regime,” Netanyahu said. “If they support the regime so much, they would do well to return to their country of origin.”
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