Racism in Israel: Molotov cocktails thrown at African immigrants in Tel Aviv — police say incident is not ‘serious’

Wikipedia: A pogrom (Russian: погро́м) is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centers. It originally and still typically refers to 19th- and 20th-century attacks on Jews, particularly in the Russian Empire.

The Jerusalem Post reports: Unidentified attackers on Friday threw Molotov cocktails at four houses and one kindergarten connected to a community of African asylum seekers in the Shapira neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

No one was injured, but there was property damage, and neighbors believed that the attack was organized and specifically directed against the refugees. Police arrived in the neighborhood to investigate the case after the incident.

Police would not comment in detail on what they referred to as the “attempted arson.” Specifically, they refused to comment on whether the crime had been racially-motivated and on reports that additional Molotov cocktails were found nearby.

Police admitted to The Jerusalem Post that they had not sent out an announcement to the press regarding the incident. When asked by the Post why they had not followed standard protocol of sending out a press announcement, the police said that while there was no conscious decision not to, that typically announcements were only made for “serious” incidents and not “every little incident.” The police did not explain why the throwing of several Molotov cocktails was not considered serious.

The attackers threw one of the Molotov cocktails near a courtyard where five Eritreans regularly sleep. The residents were awoken by the fires and extinguished them, but did not see who threw the bottles.

Requesting anonymity, one neighbor claimed that the only reason for the attack would be if someone was trying to scare away the refugees. The neighbor added that the Molotov cocktail had almost burned his car and was thrown into a house where a little girl lived.

Shortly afterwards, two Molotov cocktails were thrown into another two houses of asylum seekers. One resident described waking up from a fire right next to the bed.

Many residents asked rhetorically who could do such a thing, with no answer expected to be immediately forthcoming from police.

While the asylum seekers were circumspect about claiming that these sorts of incidents were racially-motivated, Israeli residents were more outspoken on the issue.

Some neighborhood activists plan to respond to the incident with a protest vigil on Friday afternoon. “There is racial incitement trickling down from the government, coming from several city council members, and it impacts the situation on the street,” stated Nir Nader. “People who incite racism should go to jail, and if the state does not stop them, we will stop them with our bodies.”

As Haggai Matar reports, whoever conducted the attacks, Israelis in the neighborhood supported the attackers goals if not their methods.

“Somebody is trying to get rid of these damn Sudanese,” said an Israeli resident of Shapira neighborhood in south Tel Aviv this morning. The term “Sudanese” is commonly used by Israelis to describe all African asylum seekers. The house adjacent to the house of this Israeli was hit at around 1:30 a.m. by three Molotov cocktails: two were thrown through the window, and one into the entry hall. No one was hurt, as residents and neighbors quickly awoke and extinguished the fire. Another fire bomb was thrown into a neighboring yard, where five asylum seekers sleep outdoors. Furniture was badly burned, but none of the residents were hurt. All of the cases are probably linked, as Mya has noted.

“Whoever did this is right, but he’s doing it the wrong way,” says the neighbor. “This fire almost burned my car, and also – there is a small girl in that house. He should have waited until nobody was home, and then blown the place up to send them a message”.

Mya Guarnieri reports:

The African community in Israel has been the target of numerous acts of violence in the past. In January of 2011, for example, a burning tire was thrown into the apartment five Sudanese refugees shared in Ashdod. The men suffered from smoke inhalation and two were hospitalized.

Also in January of 2011, three teenage girls – the Israeli-born, Hebrew-speaking daughters of African migrant workers – were beaten by a group of Jewish teenagers. The attackers, one of whom was armed with a knife, allegedly called them “dirty niggers.” One of the girls needed medical treatment for her injuries.

Speaking in the aftermath of the 2011 attack on the girls, Poriya Gal, spokeswoman for the Hotline of Migrant Workers, told me, “It’s worth noting that the girls had already experienced such violence in the neighbourhood. But they chose not to report it to the police out of the fear that they would be attacked again.”

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One thought on “Racism in Israel: Molotov cocktails thrown at African immigrants in Tel Aviv — police say incident is not ‘serious’

  1. rosemerry

    How desperate would anyone have to be to try to immigrate to Israel? Even worse than poor Mexicans trying to enter the USA.

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