Demonstrators marched in unison to protest the arrests and deportation of African migrants. The streets of Tel Aviv were occupied by protestors who claim that asylum seekers are being unfairly treated because of the color of their skin.
The demonstration was conceived and carried out by the Bnei Darfur Organization. Marchers made their way to the United Nations Refugees office and handed a written letter to the government. The letter contained a demand for migrant workers to be reclassified as refugees.
The goal of the demonstration was for the UN to step in because of sentiments that Israeli authorities are not doing so. The march is also a call for migrants to be given access to education and health care. They are also asking for all denied asylum claims to be reexamined.
The marchers are made up largely of men, women and children from North Sudan and Darfur. One demonstrator was identified as Andrew Akolawin, who is planning to return to his native country of South Sudan with his children after staying in Israel for five years.
According to Akolawin, the issue is not about being deported back to his country as much as the manner in which the deportation process is being handled. He says that many are being forced out despite being owed unpaid wages and other dues. Like Akolawin, many will be leaving Israel with bitter feelings toward the country.
The protest at Tel Aviv did erupt in violence at one point and resulted in the arrest of 17 demonstrators. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, known for his firm stance against illegal immigration, denounced the violence and referred to those arrested as â€œinfiltrators.â€
According to official records, over 59,000 African immigrants have illegally entered Israel through the border that the country shares with Egypt. Construction is currently underway to build a fence to encompass the perimeter of the border.