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UN Refugee Agency 'deeply' concerned by violent clashes in Israel

September 5, 2023 at 4:29 pm

Eritrean asylum seekers clash with the Israeli police in Tel Aviv, Israel on September 02, 2023 [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

The UN Refugee Agency said, Tuesday, it is “deeply” concerned by violent clashes in Israel that injured hundreds of asylum seekers and dozens of police officers, Anadolu Agency reports.

“UNHCR calls for calm and restraint and on all parties to refrain from taking any steps that could aggravate the situation further,” spokesperson, William Spindler, told a UN news conference.

Spindler said the fighting was “deeply regrettable, and do not reflect the behaviour of the broader Eritrean community in Israel”, while noting the vast majority of asylum-seekers living in Israel are peaceful and law-abiding.

“While it is important to establish accountability for what happened on Saturday, any decision impacting all Eritrean asylum-seekers or instances of refoulement would contravene international law and could result in dramatic human consequences, as the situation in Eritrea remains unchanged,” he said.

READ: More than 100 injured in Eritrean clashes in Tel Aviv

One day after the clashes, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called for the deportation of illegal migrants involved in Saturday’s clashes in Tel Aviv, and said the riots by Eritrean asylum seekers as “a rampage we cannot accept”.

Videos posted on social media showed street fighting between police and protesters, as well as between opposing groups of Eritrean nationals.

Eritreans make up the majority of African asylum seekers in Israel, estimated at more than 30,000, according to Israeli estimates.

Past years saw fighting between Eritrean opponents and supporters of their country’s regime in Israel.

READ: Israel calls for use of administrative detention against African migrants