Clashes in Tel Aviv: Eritrean Asylum Seekers and Regime Supporters Face Off

Tel Aviv: In a startling outbreak of violence, Tel Aviv witnessed chaos as over 150 individuals were injured in a standoff between Eritrean asylum seekers opposing their home government and supporters of the current Eritrean regime.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Clashes in Tel Aviv: Eritrean Asylum Seekers and Regime Supporters Face Off
© Getty Images News/Amir Levy

Tel Aviv: In a startling outbreak of violence, Tel Aviv witnessed chaos as over 150 individuals were injured in a standoff between Eritrean asylum seekers opposing their home government and supporters of the current Eritrean regime.

Adding to the melee, law enforcement officials clashed with participants from both groups while trying to restore order.

A Powder Keg Ignites

The day began with an official event, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the ascent to power of Eritrea's current leader.

This celebration quickly took a tumultuous turn when opponents of the Eritrean regime, identifiable in their blue attire, began protesting against regime supporters dressed in red. What might have started as a simple demonstration rapidly escalated into hours of unchecked violence.

As both factions aggressively faced off, they utilized building materials, metal fragments, stones, and even axes as makeshift weapons. The south Tel Aviv neighborhood, which houses a significant number of asylum seekers, became the battleground.

Damage to property was evident as shop windows shattered, police vehicles were vandalized, and blood-stained sidewalks painted a grim picture of the events.

Police Intervention and the Rising Toll

In their bid to control the escalating situation, the police resorted to tear gas, stun grenades, and even live rounds.

Mounted officers, in a desperate attempt to control the surging crowd, faced off against protesters who defiantly broke through barricades, responding with a hail of rocks. In defense of their actions, police officials stated that the decision to employ live fire was taken only when they felt that officers' lives were critically threatened.

According to the emergency services, the confrontation resulted in numerous casualties, including 30 police officers who sustained moderate injuries. Police said Eritrean government supporters and opponents had received permission for separate events Saturday, and had promised to stay away from each other.

At some point, the promises were broken, said Chaim Bublil, a Tel Aviv police commander. "A decision was made by the government opponents to break through the barriers, to clash with the police, to throw stones, to hit police officers," Bublil told reporters at the scene.

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