Eritrean riot – Policeman undergoes surgery after being bashed in skull

170 people were injured in the violence when pro- and anti-regime protestors clashed in Tel Aviv Saturday.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A policeman had to undergo surgery Saturday night after being bashed in the skull with a piece of a camping burner during an hours-long riot involving pro- and anti- Eritrean regime demonstrators in south Tel Aviv.

The officer said a whole group had attacked him and he did not remember anything after being struck in the head. His condition was upgraded to moderate after the operation.

Hundreds of Eritrean migrants dressed in red to show support for the Eritrean dictatorship who had planned to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the regime in Eritrea faced off against hundreds of other Eritrean migrants dressed in blue, who arrived to show their hatred of their homeland’s government.

Some 170 were hurt, including some 50 policemen, as the rioters hit each other and the authorities with rocks, wooden planks and metal objects. Some protestors were stabbed with knives in individual fights. Others were injured by gunfire, as the police resorted to live fire in places where they felt their lives were in danger and riot dispersal means such as stun grenades and tear gas weren’t working to quell the violence.

Read  Chief of Israeli security agency blasts violent left-wing protest

Hundreds of officers, including those on horseback, had been ordered to the scene to reinforce the local force and Border Police who had first arrived in the neighborhood after being called by business owners and residents whose store fronts and cars were being smashed by the rioters. During the chaos, a nightclub was also set on fire, and many police cars were heavily damaged.

“If we weren’t there today and we wouldn’t have intervened between the two groups of demonstrators — the supporters and opponents of the regime — we would be counting bodies,” a senior police official told Channel 12 Saturday.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai called the violence “an extreme event, which we have never encountered before in the State of Israel.” He speculated that “It seems that that there was guidance from abroad.”

The reference may have been to the Eritrean government, whose brutal repression of its citizens and forced and indefinite conscription into the army led tens of thousands to claim asylum when they entered Israel illegally through the border with Egypt between 2007-2012. An Israeli-built border fence completed in 2012 finally stopped the flood of migrants, and a concerted effort to get them to leave using a combination of carrots and sticks has reduced the estimated number of Eritreans to 18,000.

Read  4 police officers wounded in terror attack at central Israel checkpoint

While supporters argue the migrants should be recognized as refugees, critics note that the migrants illegally infiltrated into the country and that most came simply to better themselves financially, thus making them eligible to be deported.

Eritrean rights activist Molgata Mogos is among those who is outraged by the fact that the Israeli government does not distinguish between the groups.

“We say that our country does not have a democracy,” he said. “When we arrived in Israel we wrote on the forms that our country has a dictator, but the other side claims that everything is fine there…. So let them check one by one and send them back if they are okay with their country. They are the ones making the mess.”

Shira Abu of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants human rights organization agreed.

“It’s time that Israel check the asylum requests and differentiate between those who deserve status and protection, and the minority that aid the regime to threaten the asylum seekers,” she told Walla News.

According to Berhana Negsi, who heads the new Tikva association for asylum seekers in Israel, regime supporters regularly “harass” regime opponents and the authorities “do nothing about it.” He said he personally warned the authorities about what could happen Saturday, but the police did not prepare accordingly.

Read  4 police officers wounded in terror attack at central Israel checkpoint

While 39 rioters were arrested on the scene, the police are still investigating the incident and more arrests are expected.