UN 'alarmed' by clashes at Eritrean protests in Israel

AFP , Tuesday 5 Sep 2023

The United Nations' rights chief said Monday he was "alarmed" by the high number of injuries during recent clashes in Israel involving Eritrean protesters.

Tel Aviv Eritrean protests
Eritrean protesters clash with Israeli riot police in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. AP


Trouble erupted on Saturday when a demonstration against an Eritrean government event turned violent, injuring nearly 140 people, including a dozen Eritrean asylum seekers who were hit by Israeli police gunfire.

"Alarmed at high number of injuries during protests involving opposing Eritrean protesters, particularly in Israel," UN human rights chief Volker Turk said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Crucial that investigations take place, hate speech is avoided -- especially by authorities -- and principle of non-refoulement is fully respected," he added.

The clashes began outside a south Tel Aviv venue that was set to host a pro-regime event organised by the Eritrean embassy in Israel.

Hundreds of anti-government Eritreans came to prevent the event from taking place. Israeli police declared their gathering an illegal demonstration and ordered the street to be emptied.

But demonstrators clashed with police who "used live fire against rioters," Israeli police said in a statement, adding that at least 49 of their personnel were wounded.

While police and Eritrean demonstrators clashed at the event site, there were also confrontations between supporters and opponents of Eritrea's government elsewhere in Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel was considering deporting 1,000 Eritreans who took part in "riots" in Tel Aviv over the weekend .

According to June statistics, there are 17,850 Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel.

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