Threats Made Against South Tel Aviv Aid Workers After Yishai Remarks

Hotline for Migrant Workers files a police report about the calls and also filed a complaint against Interior Minister Eli Yishai for incitement.

Workers at a second Tel Aviv aid organization for migrant workers and refugees received telephone threats on Wednesday, in a sign that the tension between foreigners and locals continues to simmer. The threats came after Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Army Radio most "African infiltrators are criminals."

Two employees at the Hotline for Migrant Workers said they received three phone calls from people who did not identify themselves but who cursed and threatened them. Earlier this month, an anonymous caller threatened to firebomb Mesila, a different aid organization, and firebombs were thrown at two apartments housing African workers. No one was hurt in those attacks.

In this latest incident, hotline employees said that one caller asked, "Is this the hotline that helps those sons of whores infiltrators who rape Jewish women? ... I'd like your address so we can burn you, to do to your daughters what they do to our daughters."

The workers filed a police report about the calls and also filed a complaint against Interior Minister Eli Yishai for incitement. Earlier on Wednesday, Yishai spoke to Army Radio about migrants who've been implicated in recent crimes. On Tuesday, four asylum-seekers were arrested on suspicion they had raped a 19-year-old woman in south Tel Aviv.

"Most of the African infiltrators are criminals," Yishai said. "I would put all of them, without exception, into a prison or other holding facility, and from there, give each of them a grant and send them back to their countries."

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch toured the southern part of Tel Aviv on Wednesday and attacked Yishai and his ministry for not doing enough to deal with the refugee issue.

"The Interior Ministry and the Oz [immigration police] unit haven't functioned for two months. There's no enforcement," said Aharonovitch. "They asked us to prepare detention spaces. We prepared 2,000 slots in various jails, but they haven't brought us even one detainee. The police are fighting but they cannot battle this alone."

The Interior Ministry's Population, Immigration and Border Crossing Authority decried Aharonovitch's remarks, calling them an "irresponsible attack."

"Violence will not be eradicated by the Population Authority, which does not have police powers; that's the job of the Israel Police. The authority works in accordance with cabinet decisions and laws, and has no intention of deviating from this in response to an unbridled attack."

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