Neighborhood activist: Those who incite racism should go to jail; police do not consider incident “serious.”
Unidentified attackers on Friday threw Molotov cocktails at four houses and one kindergarten connected to a community of African asylum seekers in the Shapira neighborhood of Tel Aviv.
No one was injured, but there was property damage, and neighbors believed that the attack was organized and specifically directed against the refugees. Police arrived in the neighborhood to investigate the case after the incident.
Police would not comment in detail on what they referred to as the “attempted arson.” Specifically, they refused to comment on whether the crime had been racially-motivated and on reports that additional Molotov cocktails were found nearby.Police admitted to The Jerusalem Post that they had not sent out an announcement to the press regarding the incident. When asked by the Post why they had not followed standard protocol of sending out a press announcement, the police said that while there was no conscious decision not to, that typically announcements were only made for “serious” incidents and not “every little incident.” The police did not explain why the throwing of several Molotov cocktails was not considered serious.
The attackers threw one of the Molotov cocktails near a courtyard where five Eritreans regularly sleep. The residents were awoken by the fires and extinguished them, but did not see who threw the bottles.
Requesting anonymity, one neighbor claimed that the only reason for the attack would be if someone was trying to scare away the refugees. The neighbor added that the Molotov cocktail had almost burned his car and was thrown into a house where a little girl lived.
Shortly afterwards, two Molotov cocktails were thrown into another two houses of asylum seekers. One resident described waking up from a fire right next to the bed.
Many residents asked rhetorically who could do such a thing, with no answer expected to be immediately forthcoming from police.
While the asylum seekers were circumspect about claiming that these sorts of incidents were racially-motivated, Israeli residents were more outspoken on the issue.
Some neighborhood activists plan to respond to the incident with a protest vigil on Friday afternoon. “There is racial incitement trickling down from the government, coming from several city council members, and it impacts the situation on the street,” stated Nir Nader. “People who incite racism should go to jail, and if the state does not stop them, we will stop them with our bodies.”
The attacks are not the first in recent years to be suspected of being racially-motivated. In December 2010, a racially tinged demonstration was held in the same neighborhood against the large number of African refugees and migrant workers who reside there. The demonstration came less than a week after unidentified assailants threw a burning tire at an apartment full of Sudanese in Ashdod.
Five of the seven residents of the apartment suffered smoke inhalation before they were able to break a window and flee in the Ashdod incident.
That same night, three teenage girls born in Israel to African migrant workers were beaten by a mob of youths near the entrance to the Hatikva neighborhood, the Hotline for Migrant Workers reported.