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Municipal authorities raid and shutter asylum seekers' businesses in Tel Aviv

Dozens of Tel Aviv municipal officers, border policemen and private movers raided several businesses run by African asylum seekers around Tel Aviv’s central bus station, confiscating goods and welding the doors shut. Officials also poured bleach into food in a Darfur refugee’s restaurant. Is city hall preparing for the upcoming municipal elections?

Tel Aviv municipality officials showing an asylum seeker out of his resturant (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Tel Aviv Municipality officials showing an asylum seeker out of his resturant (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

A group of municipal officials led an operation to close African asylum seekers’ illegal businesses in the south Tel Aviv neighborhoods of Neve Sha’anan and Shapira at around 7 p.m. Sunday night. The municipal officers were accompanied by Border Police officers, a photographer and several large moving trucks complete with African workers.

Splitting into groups, the law enforcers went to several bars, restaurants and grocery stores owned by asylum seekers. As their legal status in Israel forbids them from either working or owning a business, most Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers are forced to make a living illegally, which leads authorities to chase them down and either punish their employers or close down their shops.

Policeman and attack dog watch over African workers emptying asylum seeker's store (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

A policeman and an attack dog watch over African workers emptying an asylum seeker’s store (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Such was the case Sunday evening. All the goods, furniture and other equipment in all the businesses were inventoried and confiscated, and the doors were welded shut. In none of the locations photographer Oren Ziv and I visited was there any resistance by the shop owners and the armed policemen (and one police attack dog) were left without much to do. Several Israeli bystanders cheered the officials for helping pushing foreigners out, while other muttered insults at them for enforcing racist policies.

Workers emptying a bar in Shapira neighborhood (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Workers emptying a bar in south Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Estimates have it that asylum seekers are running hundreds of small businesses in south Tel Aviv, mostly serving their own communities and naturally, authorities cannot possibly close them all down. However, owners often complain about police brutality, as Border Police patrols force people out of bars at midnight, at times using batons and even pepper spray. The municipality, too, is working hard at combating this small world of business and leisure, but operations on today’s scale are not a common sight.

Weldinig a shop's door (Oren ziv / Activestills)

Welding a shop’s door shut (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

It is possible that Mayor Ron Huldai’s administration pushed the operation forward as part of preparations for the upcoming October municipal elections. Many Israeli residents of south Tel Aviv are likely to be supportive of such actions, as the feeling is that asylum seekers are burdening the already weak physical and social infrastructure and poor services provided to the mostly working or lower-middle class population in the neighborhoods. This feeling is strengthened as some asylum seekers are pushed into criminal activities and the press gives extensive coverage to the criminality. Tensions between the communities has already led to several individual and mob attacks on asylum seekers by Israelis.

Officials and movers take fridge out of asylum seeker's resturant (Oren ziv / Activestills)

Municipal officials and private movers take a fridge out of an asylum seeker’s resturant (Oren Ziv / Activestills)


UPDATE, May 13, 10:30 a.m.:

Aladin Abaker, a Sudanese refugee, published pictures from Sunday night’s raid showing municipal Ministry of Health inspectors pouring bleach into pots of food in a restaurant, allegedly because the establishment is “a danger to public health.” He writes the following:

Friends meet in this place, the most delicious restaurant with a smell of home, to eat and remember our families in Darfur. Suddenly health inspectors and police forces swarmed in and destroyed the food we had ordered and the food in the pots, with no sensitivity to the people whose culture sees food as a sacred thing to be treated with respect. We tried to tell them that this place has been open for four years now, it’s where we eat all our meals, and not once has anyone gone ill. Even whites come to eat here…

Everybody present was in tears. The waitress told us: “I’ve seen some horrible things in my life, including torture in Sinai, but this has humiliated me more than torture.” I told her they were doing it to make our lives miserable and try to encourage us to return to Africa “willingly.”

Offical pouring bleah into food as Sudanese resturant (Photo: Aladin Abaker)

Offical pouring bleach into food as Sudanese restaurant (Photo: Aladin Abaker)


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    1. “As their legal status in Israel forbids them from either working or owning a business,” … then they have no asylum. If one places decision on asylum on hold and refuses a livelihood, there is no asylum possible in outcome. This process is a way of avoiding the legal obligation to decide on asylum. It is a form of socio-economic torture.

      If the establishments are welded shut, why confiscate equipment like refridgerators?

      Reply to Comment
      • ohyeah

        It will be very expensive for the CIA front known as the New Israel Fund to replace all the equipment. Obama & the CIA are responsible for organizing & funding this African invasion of Israel. Trying to flood Israel out of existence. They should be the ones to send the planes to get them out of Israel where they don’t belong & are not wanted.

        Reply to Comment
        • dany

          Awseome crap.
          Don’t forget you tin foil hat, dude!

          Reply to Comment
      • Woody

        TO PUNISH THEM because they’re a lesser race! Use the law to crush the lesser races, is the message. Why not? It’s the premise of the state and the continuity of Jewish heritage here for the past 60+ years.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          >>TO PUNISH THEM because they’re a lesser race!

          Do not project your petty racism onto others.

          Reply to Comment
          • dany

            Says the scum who believes whites are better than others. Ridiculous

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            > who believes whites are better than others

            I’ve never claimed anything similar. Your lie combined with ad hominem attacks are a sufficient proof of… who is who, so to say.

            Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >This process is a way of avoiding the legal obligation to decide on asylum. It is a form of socio-economic torture.

        No, they have no asylum. Why should economic migrants from 3rd countries have it?

        >If the establishments are welded shut, why confiscate equipment like refridgerators?

        Because welding would hold on only so long – at any case not longer than few days.

        If a business was working illegaly and have not paid any taxes, equipment might be confiscated and sold.

        Reply to Comment
        • So now the people will have to spend their money at legitimate tax paying stores – about time the illegal shops / clubs / bars were closed …

          Reply to Comment
    2. Elahn Zetlin

      Close them down today and they will open up another tomorrow.
      This does not deal with the root cause and neither does it lead towards harmony, education, integration and acceptance.
      The heavy handedness of Israeli authority is so void of empathy, sympathy and emotional intelligence.
      Pouring bleach into food?! Really?

      Reply to Comment
    3. The Trespasser

      >This feeling is strengthened as some asylum seekers are pushed into criminal activities


      I’d say that these “asylum seekers” had brought criminal activities with them.

      Reply to Comment
    4. rsgengland

      Refugee laws state that asylum seekers must stay in the first country through which they pass, which is the Muslim Brotherhood ruled paradise of Egypt.
      The vast majority , if not all these persons are economic migrants looking for a better place to live.
      Israel has enough of its own problems absorbing and integrating minorities, a constant alertness against terrorist and conventional attack from enemies within and without, and a financial/economic situation which needs urgent attention before it sinks to International levels.
      Instead of Foreign Governments funding anti-Israel NGOs’, let them take these economic migrants and resettle them elsewhere.

      Reply to Comment
      • Every country has a laundry list of excuses not to absorb asylum seekers and refugees, all of them looking suspiciously similar – they bring disease, they take our jobs, we’re a small country, why don’t they go over there, we’ve got enough, we’ve got our own problems. Such people become a stick with which to beat the ruling political party and a way to get votes (“Vote for Bennett, vote for UKIP, vote for Marine, we’ll be tough on them”) and their needs and circumstances get overlooked.

        Asylum law states that asylum seekers must stay in the first *safe* country in which they pass. In practice, many asylum seekers try to pass through multiple ‘safe’ countries, as if they are then deported, it will only be to their last point of call and not to their country of origin. This is why asylum seekers reaching the UK often come via Germany or France, because if their asylum bid fails the Border Agency will usually hand them over to the German or French authorities, and they have something of a safety net. It is sad that people should ever find themselves in position, and continuing to support the inhumane game of pass-the-parcel (as you are doing here) will do nothing to alter it.

        Reply to Comment
        • rsgengland

          All countries “have their laundry list of excuses”.
          To provide asylum for individuals fleeing from the real threats and dangers of political repression and violence, is both obligatory and necessary.
          Economic refugees, and that is what most refugees are, are not looking for a safe haven per se, but a better life for themselves and their families.
          They mostly come to the UK via Europe, but that is because it is easier, and more successful than coming via air [the only other practical alternative].
          There is no necessity or compunction for any country to resettle illegal immigrants who have entered for dubious, criminal or economic reasons.

          Reply to Comment
      • There has to be a reason why Israel doesn’t expell outright. Instead, it builds detention camps. I suspect the reason is that here is a standing High Court decision that the refugees must be given a hearing, and Administration fears blanket expulsion might constitue abrogation of the relevant treaty. Since Israel wants fleeing Jews granted temporary asylum, the State does not want to risk abrogation.

        So we end up in legal Kafka land.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          >There has to be a reason why Israel doesn’t expell outright

          Because Israel is not allowed to expel those who fell under category of “asylum seeker”?

          Speaking of which, yesterday I have had eavesdropped to a conversation between an Israeli Jewish subcontractor of my customer and an employee of the said customer. The conversation took place during the lunch.

          – So, how did you get inside Israel?
          Asylum seeker:
          – From Sinai.
          -And why did you came here?
          -Because of money.
          -Only money? No war?
          -No war. Money.

          Reply to Comment
    5. dany

      >Economic refugees, and that is what most refugees are, are not looking for a safe haven per se, but a better life for themselves and their families.

      How dare they.
      Any idea on which purpose the vast majority of your big ally USA was founded?
      But at least they weren’t black, which makes the difference for people like you…..

      Reply to Comment
    6. Mark

      Isn’t it ironic how years ago, Israelis and American Jews were triumphing the cause of international intervention to save the inhabitants of Darfur. When the Darfuris find refuge with the Israeli Jews whom they thought were there allies, they get treated like garbage. Kind of makes you think, perhaps the Israelis were simply using the Darfur conflict as a way to bash Arabs, and they really didn’t give a damn about the people of Darfur…

      Reply to Comment
      • Aviveric

        They are not from Darfur …. Every illegal immigrant claims some association due to the Sympathy attached to that keyword …. Most are from Eritrea and dodging army national service – there is no reason to host them – like all countries Israel is economically strapped for cash and making severe cutbacks affecting our own people – so simply cannot afford to host draft dodgers – plus they bring a culture of brutality – gang rape of a 16yr old girl, rape of an 83yr old woman, attempted rape of an 8yr old girl and her mother stabbed saving her …. 53% crime rise from illegals in 12 months ….. And for those that are crying about illegal non tax paying businesses being closed down – dont worry – this was a mayoral pre election pr event – 99.9% are still in business – drove thru there last night and its business as usual in the crime capital of the middle east – so dont worry yourselves – and the anti semites out there you can relax that this serious problem has the potential to destroy israel from within – let alone iran, syria, egypt, lebanon, and of course hamas, hizbullah, and others lying in wait

        Reply to Comment
        • Mark

          Well, it’s your word against theirs. These people say they came from Darfur, and the UN registry attests to the many refugees from Darfur fleeing to Israel. You can’t simply brush this off by saying “they are probably not from Darfur”. What if they are? Then what’s your excuse?

          Reply to Comment
          • Mark

            And as a side note, your credibility just went out the window when you said the Africans have a a “culture of brutality” and then accuse people of antisemitism of who show sympathy for Africans. You can’t accuse people of racism and them spew out an incredibly racist rant against Africans.

            Reply to Comment
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