PHOTOS: Thousands of asylum seekers hold ‘silent march’ on streets of Tel Aviv

Photos by Activestills, text by Haggai Matar

African refugees and Israeli activists protest Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and the recognition of their rights as refugees, December 28, 2013. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
African refugees and Israeli activists protest Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and the recognition of their rights as refugees, December 28, 2013. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Over 6,000 African asylum seekers and Israeli activists hit the streets of Tel Aviv for a silent march to protest Israel’s immigration policies Saturday night. The protesters called for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the revised “anti-Infiltration Law,” which permits indefinite detention in an “open” facility, and demanded recognition of their rights as refugees.

The demonstrators marched with candles and signs while others brandished the official numbers given to them by the government. One Eritrean asylum seeker was seen walking alongside an Israeli who, as a reserve soldier, caught him at the border between Israel and Egypt.

African refugees and Israeli activists protest Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and the recognition of their rights as refugees, December 28, 2013. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
African refugees and Israeli activists protest Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and the recognition of their rights as refugees, December 28, 2013. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
African refugees and Israeli activists protesting Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Infiltrator Law, and the recognition of their refugee rights, December 28, 2013. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
African refugees and Israeli activists protesting Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Infiltrator Law, and the recognition of their refugee rights, December 28, 2013. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

At one point, some of the demonstrators began chanting and running, similar to last week’s protest which also took place in Tel Aviv. However, the protest organizers were able to hold hands at the front line and keep the protest calm.

The protesters marched to the Holocaust memorial in Rabin Square at the heart of Tel Aviv, where community leaders gave speeches about fleeing genocide and refugee rights.

African refugees and Israeli activists protest Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and the recognition of their rights as refugees, December 28, 2013. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)
African refugees and Israeli activists protest Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and the recognition of their rights as refugees, December 28, 2013. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)
African refugees and Israeli activists protest Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and the recognition of their rights as refugees, December 28, 2013. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
African refugees and Israeli activists protest Israel’s immigration policies, calling for the release of all refugees imprisoned under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and the recognition of their rights as refugees, December 28, 2013. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Thousands of African asylum seekers crowd Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square during a ‘silent protest’ against government policies. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Thousands of African asylum seekers crowd Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square during a ‘silent protest’ against government policies. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Related:
Prison break: African asylum seekers claim their place on the Israeli political map
Turning Israel into a ‘state of all its infiltrators’