Mounting Tensions between Refugees and Israelis

Nic Schlagman

For the past three weeks, African residents have been living in fear after a spate of fire bomb attacks on refugee accommodations and businesses. Starting on the weekend after Israeli Independence Day, there have been seven separate instances of attacks on refugees, including the setting alight of a nursery run by an ex-ARDC shelter resident. Tension has existed in the neighborhoods around the bus station in South Tel Aviv for some time now, and despite the best efforts of the refugee rights organizations to engage the local Jewish residents on this issue, the situation has only got worse. These attacks are the culmination of a process of delegitimization and dehumanization of African refugees that comes right from the top of the government of Israel. ARDC covered this process extensively in our report for the UN.

These attacks received no official condemnation from the government, and many in the community are terrified their properties will be next. Among the concerned include all the staff at our shelters, which hold 28 women, 13 children and 17 babies, and sit right in the heart of the neighborhood. Whilst we have equipped each room with fire extinguishers and fire blankets, we are unable to afford overnight protection on the weekends, when our fear is the greatest.

The neighborhoods of South Tel Aviv are under great strain from a number of factors, and the government's inability to propose and implement any solutions means we feel worse may still be to come.