Israel: African migrants hurt in suspected arson attack


An Israeli firefighter walks past Hebrew writing that reads 'Get out of the neighbourhood' spraypainted at the entrance to an apartment which is home to African migrants from Eritrea after unknown attackers set it ablaze overnight in Jerusalem on July 4, 2012. The issue of African migrants in Israel has hit the headlines in recent weeks, after a spike in racial tensions resulted in a riot in southern Tel Aviv, currently home to tens of thousands of African migrants.



A fire broke out in a Jerusalem apartment that is home to ten Eritrean migrant workers, Haaretz reported. Four of the migrants have been injured as a result. Firefighters say that the fire was caused intentionally and was racially-motivated. Graffiti at the scene says "leave the neighborhood."

The suspected attack is just the latest in a string of attacks targeting Africans in Israel. The anti-African sentiment comes from Israel's growing immigrant population; about 60,000 Africans have crossed illegally into Israel, Reuters reported. Deporting the migrants is difficult because some may be escaping persecution.

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While some Israelis argue that the country has a responsibility to welcome the migrants, others have protested against the incoming African population. Violence against African migrants has intensified in Israel in recent weeks, BBC News reported. Politicians have incited some of the anti-African sentiment as well. Interior Minister Eli Yishai told the BBC that the migrants could "end the Zionist dream".

However, Israel's Foreign Ministry spoke out against the arson attack and the other forms of violence, issuing a statement to Reuters saying that "there is no justification for such a heinous crime that endangers people's lives."