African migrants protest at Tel Aviv embassies

Thousands of asylum-seeking African migrants marched on foreign embassies in Tel Aviv, asking them to pressure Israel to consider their refugee requests and release those in prison.

At least 2,000 protesters demonstrated Jan. 6 in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, and hundreds of others at the embassies of France, Britain, Canada, Romania, Sweden, Italy and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, among others, according to reports.

The protesters, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, reportedly handed a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, asking that the U.S. government intercede on their behalf.  Israel contends that most of the asylum seekers are economic refugees.

On Jan. 5, thousands of African migrants and supporters demonstrated in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square and hundreds more protested at Interior Ministry offices in Eilat. The protests followed two weeks of smaller demonstrations.

Last month, the Knesset approved an amendment to the Migrant Law allowing Israel to hold African migrants in prison for up to a year without trial.  — jta