Eritrea: Israel Considers Deporting Eritreans Involved in 'Riots'

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

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says "a red line" was crossed when an Eritrean protest in Tel Aviv turned violent.

Israel is considering deporting Eritreans who participated in "riots" in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

More than 150 people were injured in clashes between pro- and anti-government Eritreans and police on Saturday.

"A red line has been crossed," Netanyahu said during a meeting with a ministerial committee tasked to deal with the aftermath of the violence.

"Riots, bloodshed -- this is lawlessness that we cannot accept," he added.

Eritrea Day event gone wrong

Political divisions in Eritrea over President Isaias Afwerki's rule have spread to the diaspora, and similar incidents have occurred at Eritrean festivals in Germany, Sweden, and Norway.

On Saturday, Eritreans opposed to the government in their country broke through barricades near the Eritrean embassy in Tel Aviv.

Israeli police in riot gear used tear gas, stun grenades, and live rounds to disperse the protesters after they had broken through barricades. An investigation has been opened to determine if the use of live ammunition was lawful.

They were protesting against an event at the embassy that supported the government in Eritrea.

Eritrea has been ruled by its unelected President Isaias Afwerki in a one-party dictatorship for 30 years.

Netanyahu seeks broader action against Eritrean migrants

Netanyahu has requested ministers to present him with plans "for the removal of all the other illegal infiltrators."

"They cannot of course claim to be refugees. They support the regime," he said. "If they support it so much, they can return to the country of their origin."

About 18,000 Eritrean migrants live in Israel.

Israeli authorities often label asylum seekers as "economic migrants" and approve applications only in rare cases.

(AFP, AP, dpa)

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