Eritrea: Over 100 Injured As Israeli Police Break Up Eritrean Protest

A map showing the location of Eritrea (in orange) and Israel (circled, in green).
2 September 2023

Among those hurt were 30 police officers and three protesters hit by police fire.

Protests by asylum-seekers and migrants opposed to the Eritrean government turned violent in Tel Aviv on Saturday, leaving over 100 people injured.

Israeli police in riot gear used tear gas, stun grenades, and live rounds to disperse the protesters after they had broken through barricades near the Eritrean embassy.

Pro-and anti-government Eritreans also clashed with each other.

Political divisions in Eritrea over President Isaias Afwerki's rule have spread to the diaspora, and this is the latest in a series of violent clashes in recent weeks.

Protesters and officers injured

Israeli medical officials said more than 114 people had been treated for injuries, including about 30 police officers.

At least three protesters were shot during the protests, authorities added.

Israeli police said that officers used their guns as they felt their lives were in danger.

Eritrea Day event gone wrong

The violence erupted during a protest against an event organized by the Eritrean embassy in the Israeli coastal city.

The demonstrators had previously asked the police to cancel the event and warned of violence if they did not.

Authorities however granted Eritrean government supporters and opponents permission for separate events.

Chaim Bublil, a Tel Aviv police commander, said they had promised to stay away from each other, but the promises were broken at some point.

"A decision was made by the government opponents to break through the barriers, to clash with the police, to throw stones, to hit police

officers," Bublil told reporters at the scene.

The violence spilled into the streets of Tel Aviv and police said they have arrested 39 people.

Eritrea's political record

Eritreans make up the majority of the more than 30,000 African asylum-seekers in Israel.

President Afwerki has ruled it in a one-party dictatorship since it gained independence in 1991.

Eritrean asylum-seekers in Israel say they fled danger and persecution in their home country.

Asylum-seekers from Eritrea are frequently "hunted and harassed" by the Eritrean government and its advocates within Israel, according to Sigal Rozen of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.

Elizabeth Chyrum, who serves as the director of the London-based organization Human Rights Concern - Eritrea, said events like the one that took place in Tel Aviv are controversial.

They generate funds for the heavily embargoed Eritrean government and serve to exert pressure on Eritreans who are far away from their homeland.

rm/lo (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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