JERUSALEM (JTA) — A demonstration in south Tel Aviv against illegal African migrants turned violent.
More than a thousand protesters gathered Wednesday in the Hatikvah neighborhood carrying signs reading "South Tel Aviv a refugee camp" and "Infiltrators, leave our home."
Protesters attacked African migrants who passed the demonstration, and smashed the windshield of a car carrying three migrants. They also set trash bins on fire and threw firecrackers at police, Ynet reported.
At least nine protesters were arrested.
Protests also were held Wednesday in Bnei Brak, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Eilat.
Israel’s Justice Ministry announced Wednesday that migrant workers from South Sudan could be returned to their country after it is established that they are not eligible for political asylum.
More than 50,000 African migrants and asylum seekers are living in Tel Aviv alone, according to government reports. Most entered through the border with Sinai.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the surge of illegal African migrants into Israel "threatens national security and identity." Last week, Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Army Radio that most African migrants in Israel are involved in criminal activity and should be imprisoned and deported to their countries of origin.