Police say 39 suspects arrested for ‘attacking police officers and throwing stones’ – Around 30 police officers among injured
More than 100 people, among which at least 12 asylum seekers from Eritrea, were injured today in violent clashes that took place in Tel Aviv between supporters of that country’s government and opponents of President Isaiah Afwerki.
Israeli police used stun grenades to quell the unrest, while some of the protesters threw stones at police officers and set trash cans on fire, Reuters reporters reported. In videos posted on social networking sites, supporters of the Eritrean government beat anti-government protesters with globes.
According to hospital sources, first aid was provided to more than 114 people. Among the injured were and about 30 police officers. Itchilov Hospital reported that 38 wounded people were taken there, and about ten of them had bullet wounds.
The police announced that 39 suspects were arrested because they “attacked policemen and threw stones”. Some had “guns, gas canisters and tasers on them.”
The violent incidents broke out on the sidelines of an event organized by the Eritrean embassy to mark Revolution Day, the anniversary of the start of the 1961 war of independence from Ethiopia.
Afuerki has ruled Eritrea since the country gained independence in 1993. Human rights groups have accused his government of a crackdown. The USA and the European Union have imposed sanctions on it for this reason.
“Why did we leave our country? Why did the Israeli police give them permission to celebrate (…) for this dictator? We are against all of them. Why am I here seeking refuge?’ said one protester, Hagos Gavriot.
Journalists said they saw men with head injuries and blood on their hands lying on the ground in a playground.
“At this time, strong police and border guard forces continue to deal with law breakers in the Tel Aviv area,” police said.
About 25,500 Eritreans who have sought asylum live in Israel today, according to Assaf, an organization that helps refugees. Many say they will be prosecuted in their home country if repatriated. Eritrea requires its citizens to obtain an exit permit to leave the country. It is one of the most isolated countries in the world and ranks last globally in terms of press freedom, human rights and economic development.
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