Police in Israel clash with Eritrean asylum seekers

 Dozens of people have been injured, including some from live gunfire, during clashes between Eritrean asylum seekers and Israeli police in Tel Aviv. The unrest was sparked after activists opposed to the Eritrean government asked Israeli authorities to cancel an embassy event on Saturday. Protesters also clashed with supporters of the Eritrean regime. An investigation has been opened into whether the use of live fire was within the law. The divisions within Eritrea over the rule of President Isaias Afwerki have spilled over into the diaspora, and this is the latest outbreak of violence in recent weeks.

Demonstrators marched towards a venue where the event was due to take place, but were initially held back by police barricades but later managed to break through them. The streets of central Tel Aviv sounded like a war zone as police helicopters buzzed overhead and Israeli officers fired live rounds into the air. Protesters fought with police, damaged cars, and smashed the windows of nearby businesses. Israeli police said that officers used their guns as they felt their lives were in danger, and that 27 were injured.

Photos from inside the hall that had been hired by Eritrean diplomats for the event showed tables and chairs overturned after angry demonstrators broke in. Videos shared on social media also showed street battles between Eritreans who support the regime in their home country and those who oppose it. Israeli police said they tried to separate the two sides. In a message put out on X, previously known as Twitter, the police asked uninvolved members of the public to stay away from the scene.

It is estimated that there are about 18,000 asylum seekers from Eritrea in Israel, most of whom arrived illegally years ago by crossing Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. They said they fled danger, persecution, and compulsory military conscription in one of the world's most repressive countries. Although Eritreans supporting the regime would not appear to be in need of international protection as refugees, the authorities in Israel have not made differentiations between asylum seekers based on their political affiliations, according to local media.

As Eritrea marks 30 years of independence from Ethiopia, festivals have been held by its diaspora. However, as well as Israel, some in Europe and North America have been marred by protests and outbreaks of violence.


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