Police on Friday arrested an 18-year-old suspected of being involved in recent attacks against migrants in south Tel Aviv, bringing the subtotal of detainees in the affair to nine. On Thursday, a 40-year-old man suspected of leading the gang of assailants was remanded in custody. Police plan to arrest further suspects.
According to police, the gang members were in the habit of going around southern Tel Aviv at nights as part of what they called "Let's go beat up a Sudanese."
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The suspects would show up at public parks with batons, iron bars and tear gas. After deciding on a victim, they would ask them for a cigarette and before they got an answer the suspects would assault the victim. Police suspect the gang also broke into several businesses owned by migrants.
Anti-violence protest (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Tensions over the presence of migrants in Israel are mounting as south Tel Aviv residents lead a campaign against the government's handling of the flow of infiltrators into Israel.
A demonstration held in Tel Aviv on Wednesday turned violent when one migrant's car war attacked. A Knesset member who attended the rally said the migrants were "a cancer in our body." Her statements were widely condemned by various state officials on Thursday.
"What is happening is pure incitement," says Yael Weisbach who volunteers in a south Tel Aviv soup kitchen for refugees. "People are fed misinformation about the refugees. They are lovely people. As a person who volunteers for them I have never encountered an act of violence or sexual harassment on their part.
"The violent protest could have been taken out of a Holocaust movie as far as I'm concerned. Hatred based on the color of one's skin. It’s a blood libel, we are losing our values."
Demonstation in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Gideon, a south Tel Aviv resident is in favor of deportation. "They started the violence and should be thrown out of here. One of my relatives gets harassed whenever she walks down the street."
Rachel, a store owner at the Levinsky Market said: "I am against violence. I have never encountered violence on their part. Jews rape and steal too. I make my living out of refugees who shop at my store."
Emanuel, who came to Israel from Eritrea four years ago, said: "I feel bad with what's happened here, but we're not afraid. There are good Israeli people who help us and treat me well," he said. Nevertheless, he accused those Israelis who consider refugees the source of rape and violence as being racist.
"There's a sense that this only happens when we are involved is racism, but we believe in the Jewish people."
Gilad Morag contributed to this report
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