Dozen Eritrean asylum-seekers were shot dead by Israeli police in Tel Aviv on Saturday after they tried to prevent a pro-Eritrean government rally, which led to violence, police and medical sources said.
The confrontations erupted in front of a hall in south Tel Aviv that was due to host an event in support of the Eritrean government organized by the Eritrean embassy in Israel.
Hundreds of opponents of the Eritrean government flocked to the site to try to prevent the event from taking place.
The Israeli police then declared the gathering unauthorized and ordered the site to be evacuated.
The police stated that protesters threw stones and planks at its officers, and some of them vandalized shops in the neighborhood.
The Israeli security forces reported that they initially deployed reinforcements and used riot control means.
However, it added in a statement that the Israeli policemen, who feared for their lives, used live bullets against the rioters, noting that 27 of its policemen were wounded.
It said it had arrested 39 people who assaulted two policemen and threw stones at them, some of whom were carrying weapons, pepper spray and stun guns.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service reported that it had treated 114 people, including eight seriously wounded.
For its part, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv reported that it received 38 people who were injured in the clashes, about 12 of whom were shot.
The Israeli police reported that it had sent reinforcements to the area, while confrontations continued between Eritreans and members of the police, and clashes were taking place between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean government in other areas in southern Tel Aviv.
According to statistics released in June, the number of Eritrean asylum seekers reached 17,850, most of whom came to Israel irregularly from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula years ago, and a large number of them settled in poor neighborhoods in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.
Eritrea has been ruled by President Isaias Afwerki with an iron hand since the country’s official declaration of independence in 1993.
It’s one of the most isolated countries in the world and is ranked very low in global rankings of press freedom, human rights, civil liberties and economic development.