The year 2012 saw a record high in violence against refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel, the annual report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel revealed on Sunday. The report also recorded higher restrictions against the right to assemble over the course of the year.
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- Nehemia Shtrasler / Israel Won vs. Migrants
The report called 2012 "a year of record of incitement and violence," against refugees or asylum seekers, particularly from African countries. The report documents numerous violent incidents, including firebombs hurled at homes and kindergartens in Tel Aviv, apartments set on fire in Jerusalem, refugees being stabbed, violent demonstrations in various neighborhoods, attacks of different kinds, and humiliation.
This year saw a new anti-infiltration law implemented, rulling that any labor seekers from Africa who enter Israel illegally from Egypt can be imprisoned for three years - and in some cases for an unlimited time - without the benefit of a trial. The law also permits administrative detention for an unlimited timeframe.
With respect to the right to assemble, the ACRI reported that 2012 saw the "end to an era of spontaneous protests," as new protocols were instated in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that permit protesting in public spaces only after official permission is granted. According to the new regulations, tents may not be erected and protests must not be held in public spaces without such prior permission.
"There is no affordable housing and water has become a luxury, but large social protests are no longer permitted in public spaces and the High Court is no longer accessible," the report says, "Privatization is penetrating the police and courts. In Arab and Bedouin villages houses continue to be destroyed, and African migrants are still being chased incessantly. The occupation and discriminatory regime continue."
The report's discussion of increased protests and animosity toward migrants was highlighted when a Tel Aviv demonstration held in May calling for the deportation of African migrants turned violent.
Some 1,000 people took part in the protest in Tel Aviv's Hatikva neighborhood, where demonstrators cried: "The people want the Sudanese deported" and "Infiltrators, get out of our home."
During the protest, demonstrators attacked African passersby while others lit garbage cans on fire and smashed car windows. Another group stopped a shuttle taxi and searched for migrant workers among the passengers, while banging on the windows.
After the protest, hundreds of people assembled in the main street of the neighborhood. Several protesters smashed the windows of a grocery store that served the migrant workers community, and broke the windows of a barber shop and looted it.
Police arrested 17 people during that protest, with some of them detained as they were beating Sudanese migrants.