MK Zahava Galon
MK Zahava GalonFlash 90

Meretz chairperson MK Zahava Gal-On condemned Thursday the violence in southern Tel Aviv which followed a rally calling for the deportation of illegal aliens from Israel.

Gal-On said, "behind a wave of incitement and hatred of foreigners are Minister Eli Yishai and lawmakers from the Likud."

"They inflame passions among the workers saying migrants and refugees are negatively impacting their own income," she added, making a veiled reference to MK Danny Danon who spoke at Wednesday's rally.

Danon, who chairs the Knesset committee tasked with preventing illegal immigration to Israel, declared to demonstrators, "The state of Israel is at war with an enemy state that has formed within Israel and has its capital in southern Tel Aviv!".

MK Gal-On continued, "Meretz identifies with the hardships of the people of south Tel Aviv neighborhoods, which began even before the arrival of migrants and refugees. These hardships result from the discriminatory economic policies of the Netanyahu government.

"Meretz will, at its faction meeting today, present a plan for dealing with the issue," Gal-On said. "A people who suffered exile and expulsions must show compassion and sensitivity towards others who are afflicted."

However, discussions between the Foreign Ministry and the Attorney General this week concluded that in most cases illegal aliens from Africa can be safely returned to their countries of origin.

Israel's state prosecutor has been tasked with investigating the circumstances of illegal aliens who do claim to be legitimate refugees on a case by case basis. However, most illegal aliens come to Israel seeking work and do not qualify as refugees.

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 people calling for immigration laws to be enforced demonstrated at the corner of Irgun and Haganah in the southern Tel Aviv neighborhood of Hatikva.

After the rally some protesters smashed windows, lit garbage cans on fire, and damaged a car that had three illegal aliens in it. No one was hurt in the incident. On Thursday police arrested 12 people on suspicion of attacking the vehicle, and running riot.

Witnesses say vast majority of those who attended the rally both arrived and departed peacefully.

Israel previously offered an assistance basket to any illegal alien who identified themselves and agreed to return home voluntarily.

The deadline to receive the assistance basket passed on April 30, and Immigration officials are now supposed to arrest and detain illegal aliens pending deportation.

However, with no detention facility to place illegal aliens in – which the government has promised to build – meaningful enforcement is effectively impossible.