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Hundreds of women march in south Tel Aviv against deportations

To mark International Women’s Day, asylum seekers and long-term residents of south Tel Aviv march together to oppose the deportation of refugees from Israel, and call for the rehabilitation south Tel Aviv’s neighborhoods. 

By Yael Marom

Asylum seekers and veteran residents of south Tel Aviv march through the city to demonstrate against the planned deportation of thousands of asylum seekers from Israel, March 9, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Asylum seekers and long-term residents of south Tel Aviv march through the city to demonstrate against the planned deportation of thousands of asylum seekers from Israel, March 9, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Over 700 women, both asylum seekers and long-term residents of south Tel Aviv, gathered Friday morning for a solidarity through the city’s southern neighborhoods, calling to stop the planned deportation of asylum seekers from the country. The women marched from the Mizrahi-feminist center Achoti, until they reached Levinsky Park, while chanting slogans such as “residents and refugees refuse to be enemies,” and “no to deportation, yes to rehabilitation.” Upon their arrival in Levinsky Park, they were met by hundreds of other women who joined for a large rally.

Asylum seekers and residents of south Tel Aviv serve as ushers during a women's march through the city to demonstrate against the planned deportation of thousands of asylum seekers from Israel, March 9, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Asylum seekers and residents of south Tel Aviv serve as ushers during a women’s march through the city to demonstrate against the planned deportation of thousands of asylum seekers from Israel, March 9, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The march, which took place to mark International Women’s Day, was organized by Mizrahi feminist activist Shula Keshet, who heads Achoti, alongside various organizations in south Tel Aviv fighting the deportations. A small group of far-right counter protesters was also present, chanting against Keshet and in support of the deportations.

Asylum seekers and veteran residents of south Tel Aviv march through the city to demonstrate against the planned deportation of thousands of asylum seekers from Israel, March 9, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Asylum seekers and long-term residents of south Tel Aviv march through the city to demonstrate against the planned deportation of thousands of asylum seekers from Israel, March 9, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

During the demonstration, Keshet called to “dismantle the ghetto and spread the refugees across Israel,” telling the crowd that “we support south Tel Aviv. They turned our area into the country’s backyard. The deportation of asylum seekers is just one step before they deport us, long-term residents of south Tel Aviv, in favor of the tycoons.”

Asylum seekers hold up an embroidery reading 'No to deportation' during a women's march in support of asylum seekers, south Tel Aviv, March 9, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Asylum seekers hold up an embroidery reading ‘No to deportation’ during a women’s march in support of asylum seekers, south Tel Aviv, March 9, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The guest of honor at the event was Dr. Alganesh Fasea, the founder and president of Gandhi, an organization that provides support for refugees from West and East Africa who are currently living in Europe. She told the crowd: “Israel has its own past, and it can understand the situation and the importance of human rights. Let’s work together for human rights for all.” Helen Kidana, a local Eritrean activist, also spoke, saying that her dream is to longer fight for her rights. “I am still optimistic. Our time is now!”

Dr. Esther Elam, one of the founders of the feminist struggle in Israel, also spoke during the rally. “When we started the feminist struggle, we understood that the personal is political,” she told the crowd. “The struggle against racism is inseparable from the feminist struggle. The liberation of women is the liberation of all humans. Unfortunately, there are many radical organizations led by men that do not understand this point.”

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.

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