Community shaken after coordinated attacks on African refugees

It is not likely that if a Jewish kindergarten was so much as threatened, that the police public response would be simply to acknowledge that a complaint was received. Nor would the ENTIRE Israeli media and political machine be completely ignoring that it even happened.

Welcome to apartheid Israel.

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Friday, April 27 2012

Haggai Matar

Four houses and one kindergarten in south Tel Aviv, all serving the African asylum seeker community, were hit  within the same hour by Molotov cocktails. Testimonies from asylum seekers and Israeli neighbors indicate a coordinated pogrom.

Forensic workers take pictures of unused Molotov cocktails

Forensic workers take pictures of unused Molotov cocktails (Oren Ziv / Activestills) (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

“Somebody is trying to get rid of these damn Sudanese,” said an Israeli resident of Shapira neighborhood in south Tel Aviv this morning. The term “Sudanese” is commonly used by Israelis to describe all African asylum seekers. The house adjacent to the house of this Israeli was hit at around 1:30 a.m. by three Molotov cocktails: two were thrown through the window, and one into the entry hall. No one was hurt, as residents and neighbors quickly awoke and extinguished the fire. Another fire bomb was thrown into a neighboring yard, where five asylum seekers sleep outdoors. Furniture was badly burned, but none of the residents were hurt. All of the cases are probably linked, as Mya has noted.

“Whoever did this is right, but he’s doing it the wrong way,” says the neighbor. “This fire almost burned my car, and also – there is a small girl in that house. He should have waited until nobody was home, and then blown the place up to send them a message”.

Asylum seeker looking at a couch burned in the South Tel Aviv attack

Asylum seeker looking at a couch burned in the south Tel Aviv attack (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Shortly after the first two attacks, two more houses were hit in the center of the neighborhood. “My brother and I were sleeping, and we awoke from the sound of the fire – which started right next to my bed,” says Maskala Masgene, an Eritrean asylum seeker. “They opened the window and threw the bottle in through the bars. When I saw it I took the bottle and threw it right out to the street. I couldn’t go back to sleep since. I’m too scared. I understand they were not caught yet, whoever did this. I’ve experienced hate talk on the street before, but nothing like this.”

The apartment next door was the fourth place hit. Here the bottle exploded on the frame of the window. Another Eritrean woman and her four children were sleeping inside, right under the window.

Maskala Masegne speaking about the attack on her home

Maskala Masegne speaking about the attack on her home (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

The fifth attack, at around 2:30 a.m., targeted a kindergarten that also serves as a home to the Nigerian couple who runs it. The burned playground equipment was still visible in the morning. “We didn’t wake up from of the fire, but actually from the knocks on the door by the firefighters,” says Balsin Baraka. “They told us to stay inside, and now the children are coming and have no games to play with outside. I have no idea who could have done this but it’s terrifying.”

All five locations were visited by police forces, who also located unused Molotov cocktails. The Tel Aviv police spokesperson has been contacted for a response but has yet to respond.

The burned kindergarten (Yotam Ronen / Activestills)

While refugees are uncertain about the identity of the attackers, Israeli residents of Shapira are all very certain that this was a racial attack. In addition to the neighbor interviewed above, several other neighborhood activists said that this is a culmination of a dangerous process that’s been going on for quite some time. “There is racist propaganda that comes down from the government, through members of the Municipal Council, and to the street – and this is the result,” accuses Nir Nader, a resident who is planning a solidarity vigil later on today. “People preaching violence should be in prison, and if the state doesn’t stop them – we shall.”

Asylum seekers at the site of the attack

Asylum seeker at the site of fire bomb attack in south Tel Aviv (Activestills)

Haggai Matar is an Israeli journalist and political activist. After writing for the short-lived Palestine Times and for Ha’ir Tel Aviv he is currently working as the municipal correspondent of Zman Tel Aviv, the local supplement of Ma’ariv, and is a prominent writer at the independent Hebrew website MySay.

In 2002 Matar was part of the Shministim (Seniors’) Letter to then PM Ariel Sharon, and was imprisoned for two years for his refusal to enlist to the Israeli army. Since his release he has been active in various groups against the occupation, as well as in several class-based struggles within the Israeli society.

CONTACT: haggai@hotmail.com

© 2012 +972 Magazine

via Community shaken after coordinated attacks on African refugees.

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