Chaos as Africans attacked
Violent race riots that shook southern Tel Aviv overnight sparked shock in Israel yesterday but also prompted top-level calls for the immediate arrest and expulsion of tens of thousands of African migrants.
The latest unrest to sweep the impoverished neighbourhoods around Tel Aviv's central bus station erupted when a demonstration by about 1000 people, protesting against the rising number of Africans moving into the area, turned violent.
"Shock, violence and hatred of foreigners in Tel Aviv" was the headline in the Maariv daily, which described scenes of chaos as demonstrators went on the rampage with sticks and stones, attacking African-run shops and smashing up a car driven by two African men.
"Blacks out," shouted demonstrators in the crowd, while others yelled: "Send the Sudanese back to Sudan."
Most reports said the rally turned nasty after the crowd was whipped up by several racist speeches from rightwing MPs, several of them from the ruling Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"The infiltrators are a cancer in our body," Likud MP Miri Regev told the crowd, as fellow MP Danny Danon shouted: "The infiltrators must be expelled from Israel! Expulsion now!"
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 20 people had been arrested on suspicion. There were no reports of injuries.
Interior ministry statistics show there are more than 60000 African immigrants living illegally in Israel.