Thirteen Eritrean asylum seekers were arrested Sunday after mass brawls broke out in Tel Aviv and Kiryat Malakhi between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean regime. 11 were arrested in Tel Aviv and two more were arrested in Kiryat Malakhi.
Some of the brawlers suffered mild injuries and one case of moderate injuries was reported. The brawls erupted in light of events marking the Independence Day of Eritrea, which was on May 24.
In Tel Aviv, the Eritrean supporters and opponents collided at 1 AM Sunday night, in the neighborhood of Neve Shaanan. Dozens of people were involved, hitting each other and throwing objects and rocks. Some were arrested and are being brought before the courts on Monday. One police officer was hurt and received medical attention.
The fight in Kiryat Malakhi broke out Sunday evening on San Diego Street, involving about ten people. Police arrived, broke up the fight and made some arrests.
Over the weekend, dozens of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv in favor of expelling African asylum seekers from Israel. The demonstrators were protesting government policy and conduct in respect to the asylum seekers. The police arrested one activist, Sheffi Paz, a leader of the campaign in favor of expelling the asylum seekers, for causing a public disturbance.
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In May, Interior Minister Arye Dery stated that Israel and the UN Refugee Agency were once again discussing a deal to deport African asylum seekers to western countries. The original deal fell through in April, after public pressure reportedly caused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to back out of it.
Last week, a news report stated that Israel wants to reduce the number of asylum seekers who stay and are given residence status, and increase the number of those who migrate to the West. The report also said Israel would like to expedite the expulsion of asylum seekers from Israel.