Police attempted to disperse large groups of illegal immigrants in South Tel Aviv’s Neve Shanaan neighborhood as a confrontation turned physical.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Illegal immigrants from Africa who live in south Tel Aviv clashed with police Sunday as officers enforced government lockdown restrictions aimed at keeping people off the streets to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Large groups of migrants congregated outside in the Neve Shanaan neighborhood despite government restrictions forbidding people from gathering in groups or traveling more than 100 meters from their homes unless purchasing food or medicine.
Police struggled to disperse the groups who refused to comply with the orders to go home.
“There’s the coronavirus disease outside, don’t you understand?” a police officer told one group. “Everyone needs to be inside. Go home!”
“We don’t care!” one migrant shouted in video recorded by Kan Channel 11. The situation escalated to a physical confrontation as the police and migrants shoved each other. One migrant was detained and taken to the local police station.
Veteran south Tel Aviv activist Sheffi Paz has lobbied the Israeli government to deport illegal migrants in the neighborhood where they have settled in large numbers over the the past few years. “They’re walking around in the streets, congregating in large groups, and hanging out in the public parks,” Paz told Channel 11.
“All of this is especially bad because they’re living in an area with a high-risk group,” said Paz, referring to the neighborhood’s many elderly residents and demanding the government deport the migrants.
“Tomorrow, everyone who is caught outside violating the lockdown who is not a citizen of Israel should be deported to his place of origin,” Paz said.
An unnamed Eritrean migrant said that many in the community struggled to understand the Ministry of Health’s Hebrew language guidelines. The man told Ynet News said he was “working tirelessly to explain the guidelines [to other asylum seekers] in our languages.”
The Physicians for Human Rights organization recently released a pamphlet with the Ministry of Health’s coronavirus guidelines translated into Tigrinya, a language spoken by many migrants from Eritrea. A local aid organization provided the translation.
The Eritrean said the migrants, many of whom work illegally and are paid in cash, do not qualify for governmental aid like unemployment benefits after many of their regular places of employment have closed or reduced their hours during the pandemic.
“We need to keep trying to make money” by selling food on the streets in South Tel Aviv, he said.
Another migrant, found sitting behind a garbage can, said his reality was worse than the coronavirus.
“I heard that only 80 year olds die from it. I’m 20, what will happen to me? I’m doing worse things to myself. Drugs and life on the street and all the diseases, it’s worse than the virus,” the man told Ynet.