Tel Aviv Shutting African Migrant Businesses in Mass Crackdown

One business in south Tel Aviv was closed on Monday and 25 more were to be shut over the next 24 hours.

Businesses run by African migrants in south Tel Aviv are due to be be shut down in a joint operation launched by the police, the Tel Aviv municipality and the Health Ministry. One business in the Shapira neighborhood was closed on Monday and 25 more were to be shut in the following 24 hours. The closures are by judicial and administrative orders, the Tel Aviv municipality said on Monday, in response to a query from Haaretz.

The operation is one of a number undertaken over the past few months, as the municipality increases pressure on Eritrean and Sudanese business owners in south Tel Aviv. As reported in Haaretz, the city has changed its policy and no longer allows Eritrean citizens to receive business licenses, even if they have a valid work permit. However, following the report, the city said it would allow people who had already applied for a license, and met the conditions, to complete the process.

Moving trucks began to assemble near Levinsky Park on Monday afternoon in preparation for the confiscation of equipment and furnishings in the shops to be shuttered. At the sight of the trucks, some of the shop owners closed their businesses themselves. Many of them do not have commercial licenses. which is also the case with many Israeli business owners.

On a tour of south Tel Aviv last week, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said that he would soon be calling a special meeting of local authority heads and their legal advisers to examine additional ways to limit the issuing of business licenses to African migrants.

While Weinstein was touring south Tel Aviv, the city’s mayor, Ron Huldai was discussing the same matter at a Tel Aviv City Council meeting. “One of the serious problems we’re dealing with is the ability to act and enforce the law against illegal businesses or those that go against the conditions of their licenses,” Huldai said. He added that the city was not taking people’s livelihood away, but rather was taking away “just the ability of temporary foreigners from being business owners. There is nothing stopping them from working and earning a living in the framework of a temporary work permit or based on the government’s policy of non-enforcement.”

In a statement to Haaretz, the Tel Aviv municipality said: “The city is investing many resources, in cooperation with the police, in specific enforcement against businesses operating without licenses throughout the city on a regular basis. Hundreds of citations have so far been issued and dozens of cases of legal action are underway against these businesses, and many judicial and administrative closure orders have been issued.

The city confirmed that the enforcement action would continue against businesses operating without licenses that it said were in breach of both municipal city by-laws and national laws.

Nir Keidar