Israel's Eritrean community had a rough day Wednesday after a peaceful conference held in the Kinneret ended in a violent brawl and a protest in the evening ended in arrests.
Some 50 Eritreans were arrested Saturday after they violently descended on a peaceful conference organized by their own community, wounding 12 and attacking the Eritrean ambassador to Israel.
The police believe the violent attack was perpetrated in protest of the Eritrean regime and targeted the event because Eritrean Ambassador Tesfamariam Tekeste
Brawl spills into street (Photo: Paz Bobrov) Wounded man lies in street (Photo: Paz Bobrov)
The event was organized by the embassy and was attended by more than 500 Eritrean nationals who came from Beersheba, Tel Aviv and Kiryat Malachi. The event was without incident until Ambassador Tekeste took the stage and a bus full of 50 rowdy Eritreans arrived.
The new arrivals allegedly attacked participants and tried to attack the ambassador as well. At some point, the police were forced to fire into the air and after things calmed some 12 people were evacuated to the hospital and 50 were arrested.
According to Tiberius Police Commander Gadi Ron: "The Eritrean ambassador's life was threatened. He was evacuated from the scene by the police and his personal bodyguards."
"Those hurt suffered from head wounds and open gashes," an official from Poriya Hospital in Tiberias said, adding that one would be forced to undergo a ligament surgery and another, suffering from internal head damage, would be transferred to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Wounded men (Photo: Maor Buchnik)Outside of the emergency room of the Poriya Hospital Simon sat with two of his friends, all three were bleeding from their head. They received medical care at the hospital and were released but the police barred them from speaking with press. Not far from them was a man who was hit in the head with stone.
Neta Mor, who works in Kinneret, said that "suddenly a group of anti-government activist arrived at the conference and began to riot. Then a brawl erupted with people using sticks and stones to attack one another. There were families at the scene."
Eritrea has one of the poorest human and civil rights records in the world. According to the UN, over the last few years more than a million people have fled the country.
Later Saturday night, Israel
asylum seeker community – which is largely comprised of Eritreans and Sudanese nationals – held a protest in Tel Aviv against the new 'open' Holot detention facility.
Asylum seekers protest in Tel Aviv (Photo: Ido Erez) Asylum seekers protest in Tel Aviv (Photo: Ido Erez)
The protest was part of a string of demonstrations the community has held both in Tel Aviv and in the Negev facility over recent months.
Two were arrested for allegedly disrupting the public order and attacking a police officer.
Omri Efraim and Gilad Morag contributed to this report
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