More than 5,000 African migrants and their Israeli supporters marched through the streets of central Tel Aviv on Saturday night, to protest the right-wing Israeli governmental policy towards asylum seekers. Though it was planned as a silent, candle-lit march, about a half hour in to the protest, the crowd was cheering and chanting “freedom!” and “no more prisons” as they weaved their way down major thoroughfares like Allenby and Rothschild.
was the second such protest in Tel Aviv, following one last Saturday night that also drew thousands participants. Unlike most protests by African migrants in Tel Aviv in recent years, the crowd was made up predominantly of asylum seekers, who appeared to be in charge and marched to their own beat, as opposed to previous protests that were mainly made up of Israeli activists. It also follows two separate “freedom marches” in the past couple of weeks, in which migrants marched from the new open detention facility in the south to Beersheba and Jerusalem, where they demanded Israel hear their asylum claims. The demonstration Saturday night set out from Lewinsky Park in south Tel Aviv and made its way to Rabin Square, where a protest was held. The recent protests are a response to Israel’s opening of Holot, the new “open” detention facility in the south, and the implementation of the “anti-infiltration amendment” which allows Israel to improson without charge people who entered the country illegally, even if they are asylum seekers.