A day after protesters rallied on the streets of south Tel Aviv against the government's handling of the flow of African migrants into Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the issue, saying that the infiltration problem must be stopped.
Meeting with children from the Jordan Valley in his office in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said that the construction of the fence along the Egyptian border will be completed in several months, after which Israel will begin returning infiltrators to their countries of origin.
- Israel's southern border fence progressing
- Clashes erupt during south TA protest; migrants attacked
Lapid: Rightist MKs don't understand Jewish morality
Netanyahu also addressed the controversial comments made by three Knesset members who attended the protest, and the acts of violence perpetrated by some of the protesters, saying that "there is no room for the type of statements and acts we witnessed yesterday.
"I say this to public officials as well as the residents of south Tel Aviv, whose pain I understand; we will solve the problem, and we will do so in a responsible manner."
'Like a Holocaust movie'
Thursday evening saw hundreds of people gather across from the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem in protest of what they called "racism in the Knesset."
Protesters were waving signs reading "The Knesset is racist, Israel is falling apart" and "Stop racism."
Meanwhile, some 200 people gathered in Tel Aviv Thursday evening to protest against the events of the previous day.
Rally in Tel Aviv (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
"I cam here because what is happening is pure incitement to violence. People are being fed false information about the refugees, who are lovely people," said Yael Weisbach, an activist with the Marak Levinsky ("Levinsky Soup"), a project that distributes hot meals to refugees.
"I never encountered an act of violence or sexual innuendoes on their part. The violent protest on Wednesday was like a scene out of a Holocaust movie, no less. Hating the other because of the color of their skin is simply a blood libel; we are losing our values," she said.
One of the protest organizers told Ynet that while a solution must be found to the problem of immigration and refugees, "It cannot be in the form of incitement and violence toward citizens, refugees and innocent migrant.
"This summer we had a social protest movement – no protest movement can ignore the racism and oppression inside the state of Israel. Battling racism is an integral part of the road to change," the organizer said.
President Shimon Peres also condemned Wednesday's events. In a special statement, Peres urged against expressions of racism and incitement"
"Xenophobia goes against the very foundations of Judaism. I'm well aware of the difficulties encountered by the residents of south Tel Aviv and the harsh realities they must face – but violence is never the answer."
Peres added that the State must find a way to deal with illegal migrant "while maintaining their dignity and human rights."
Gilad Morag contributed to this report
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