Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants Eritrean migrants involved in a violent clash to be deported and has ordered a plan to remove all of the country’s African migrants.
- Mr Netanyahu says the 1,000 migrants involved in a bloody protest will be deported
- He has also asked ministers to develop plans for the “removal of all the other illgal infiltrators”
- About 25,000 African migrants live in Israel, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea
Mr Netanyahu said the 1,000 migrants involved in the bloody protest between two rival groups in Tel Aviv on Saturday would be deported immediately.
Supporters and opponents of Eritrea’s government faced off with construction lumber, pieces of metal and rocks, injuring dozens.
Protesters smashed shop windows and police cars while Israeli police in riot gear shot tear gas, stun grenades and live rounds to try and control the riot.
It comes as Mr Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan divides the nation.
Supporters cite migration 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,” Mr Netanyahu said in a special ministerial meeting called after the violence.
He requested that the ministers present him with plans “for the removal of all the other illegal infiltrators”.
Mr Netanyahu noted Israel’s 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.
The 1,000 migrants set to be deported were supporters of the Eritrean government.
“They have no claim to refugee status. They support this regime,” Mr Netanyahu said.
“If they support the regime so much, they would do well to return to their country of origin.”
About 25,000 African migrants live in Israel, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, who say they fled conflict or repression.
Israel recognises very few as asylum seekers, seeing them overwhelmingly as economic migrants, and says it has no legal obligation to keep them.
The country has tried a variety of tactics to force them out, including sending some to a remote prison, holding part of their wages until they agree to leave the country or offering cash payments to those who agree to move to another country.
Supporters of the migrants say Israel should welcome those seeking asylum.
Israel’s far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the site of the unrest on Sunday, calling for those who broke the law to be placed in detention until they are deported.
“They don’t need to be here. It’s not their place,” he said.
Some people heckled Ben-Gvir as he walked with a police escort, telling him to “go home.”
The violence came as Eritrean government supporters marked the 30th anniversary of the current ruler’s rise to power.
President Isaias Afwerki, 77, has been in power since 1993 after Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia following a long guerilla war.
The African nation has one of the world’s worst human rights records, with Israel migrants fearing death if they were to return.
Critics see Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan as a power grab meant to limit judicial oversight on government decisions and legislation.