The recent closure of detention facilities for illegal African migrants has likely led to a dramatic surge in violent crime in south Tel Aviv, according to a senior police official on Monday.
Chief Superintendent of the south Tel Aviv district, Tzachi Sharabi, told the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee: “In the first half of 2018 there has been an increase in dozens of instances of violent crime, robbery and serious attacks among the infiltrators in south Tel Aviv when compared to the corresponding time frame the previous year.”
Sharabi suggested that shutting down the Saharonim Prison and Holot Detention Facility was the cause of the increase in crime, though he offered no direct proof, according to Ynet.
In the past, illegal migrants who committed violent offenses could be taken to Saharonim or Holot on various infractions, such as failure to produce a valid residency permit, even if they could not be convicted of the crime in a court.
“Today, many times we find ourselves with our hands tied. There is a lot of enforcement in the field and arrests are carried out within minutes, but unfortunately the majority are released after a few days and they realize that there is no ability to enforce the law at an administrative level,” Sharabi said.
Sheffi Paz, speaking for the “South Tel Aviv Liberation Front” against the influx of African migrants, confirmed Shaharabi’s account.
“The level of violence on the streets this year has exceeded all other previous years,” she said.
She also related reports of ongoing conflict between supporters and opponents of the regime in Eritrea, where many of the migrants come from:
“There are a few hundred regime opponents and a few hundred supporters. All the rest are work migrants … I don’t want them conducting a civil war in our neighborhood. They can do it in their own country,” she said.
“There are thousands of asylum seekers here who support the regime and they can go back to Eritrea. We have said that many times,” said Emanuel Yamana, himself an asylum seeker from Eritrea.
“Every year they celebrate with the Eritrean embassy and every year we go there and demonstrate and there is violence, but this year we decided not to demonstrate at the request of the police,” he continued.
“We have names and we have proof. They pay 2 percent tax to the regime in Eritrea and that’s how they can be recognized.”
Yossi Edelstein, who heads Enforcement and Foreign Affairs in the Population and Immigration Authority, denied knowledge of the regime-centered violence.
“We don’t know about this notion of supporting or opposing the regime. We haven’t gotten into the matter. We are not aware of this kind of division,” Edelstein told the committee.
The picture was not entirely bleak, however, as Chief Superintendent Sharabi noted a drop in the number of drug-related offenses in the African community in south Tel Aviv.