Eritrean Migrants at Northern Kibbutz Clash Over Their Government's Policy

Eritrean protesters say Israel ignores the African country’s human rights abuses because it’s a strategic ally.

Twelve people were injured and 50 arrested in a brawl between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean government at a kibbutz in the north of Israel on Saturday night.

The Eritrean ambassador took part in the conference where the melee took place but was not hurt.

Some 200 Eritreans had demonstrated outside the Eritrean Embassy the night before against the regime of President Isaias Afwerki, claiming that Israel ignores the country’s human rights abuses because it’s a strategic ally.

On Saturday at around 3 P.M., some 500 Eritreans arrived at Kibbutz Kinneret’s main hall. They had been touring the north and were scheduled to meet with the ambassador. Soon after the conference began, anti-government Eritreans broke into the hall carrying metal bars, wooden planks and rocks, said a kibbutz member.

Police were called in from the Tiberias police station, along with riot police; the police fired shots in the air. The ambassador was rescued unharmed and taken to the station.

Twelve people were taken to nearby Poriya Hospital suffering from blows to the head and body, as well as broken arms and legs. One man who suffered a fractured skull and intracranial bleeding was transferred to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

Nir Kafri