NGO threatened with arson and violence for helping Africans

A human rights organization that assists foreigners received threats of arson and rape within hours of Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s remarks that African asylum seekers are “infiltrators” and most are “criminals” who “damage the Zionist project.” The NGO has filed an incitement complaint against Yishai.

The Hotline for Migrant Workers received three phone calls yesterday from unknown individuals who threatened to burn the office and seemed to threaten sexual violence against volunteers and employees. The calls came less then three hours after Yishai’s remarks on Army Radio.

According to the Hotline, the first caller asked, “Is this the hotline that helps sons of whores Nazi infiltrators who rape Jewish women?”

Another caller demanded to know where the office was located; during the third call, a Hotline volunteer was told, “I want to know your address so I can burn [your offices and] to do to your girls what [asylum seekers] do to our girls, you daughter of a whore.”

The threats against the Hotline come amid heightened tensions between Jewish Israelis and African asylum seekers in South Tel Aviv. The past month has seen two incidents in which a total of six African residences in South Tel Aviv were firebombed. One of the apartments doubles as a daycare.  A 20-year-old Jewish Israeli resident of South Tel Aviv was arrested in connection with five of the attacks.

Earlier in May, an unknown caller threatened to set fire to Mesila, another organization that provides assistance to the migrant community.

Haaretz reports that on Tuesday this week, four African asylum seekers were arrested in connection with the rape of a 19-year-old South Tel Aviv woman.

After yesterday’s phone calls, the Hotline filed a complaint with the police and lodged one against Yishai as well, accusing him of incitement. In a statement issued today, the Hotline said that Yishai and other government ministers are responsible for the threats made against it and other human rights organizations.

A number of human rights groups say that the government incites against African asylum seekers rather than addressing the real problem, which is a lack of policy towards the group.

Israel does not process the refugee claims of the majority of asylum seekers residing in the country. While it does not deport Eritrean and Sudanese citizens, it also does not grant them or any other asylum seekers work permits. The state has, however, committed before the High Court of Justice that it will not enforce the work prohibition on asylum seekers.