Minister: Incitement led to J´lem arson attack on migrants (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Shahar Chai Latest Update: 06.04.12, 20:34)
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While police investigation indicates attack on illegal migrants´
apartment was racially-motivated, landlord denies says attack has
nothing to do with Eritreans living there. Minister Aharonovitch:
Public figures riding wave of hatred
The graffiti slogans that were sprayed onto an apartment building in
Jerusalem, which was torched on Monday morning, called to deport the
illegal migrants living in the area and sparked claims of racism. The
writing called for migrants to "get out of the neighborhood."
However, the apartment´s landlord insisted that this was just
a "neighborhood feud and nothing more." He further denied receiving
any threats concerning the apartment´s Eritrean residents. "We´ll fix
up the place, so they can come back and live here," he clarified.
Despite the fact that the initial investigation of the incident, in
which four people were wounded, indicated arson, the landlord
continued to insist that "the fire has nothing to do with the illegal
immigrants living in the apartment."
Some have claimed that several residents of the ultra-orthodox haredi
community in the area were behind the attack.
The landlord further denied receiving a specific threat from one of
the business owner´s in the area. According to the building owner,
any accusations made concerning the conditions the migrants were
living in, are completely baseless. "I´ve had tenants living in this
building for decades without any complaints," he said.
The Jerusalem District Police said that the initial investigation
indicated a racially-motivated attack.
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch addressed the
incident during a ceremony honoring fallen police officers in Kiryat
Ata: "These days the police is faced with additional challenges:
Facing the wave of illegal infiltrators and their criminal activity,
but no less serious are the statements made by public figures who
can´t shut their mouths and ride the wave of hatred and popularity to
cover up their feeble performance over the years."
"I call on them to cease, otherwise they could lead us all to severe
and needless violence as we witnessed last night with the torching of
the apartment in Jerusalem," he added.
Former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni also commented on the arson
attack in Jerusalem. She wrote on her Facebook page that "the
torching of the foreign workers´ apartment in Jerusalem is
intolerable and in contrast to Israel´s values."
Livni added: "The State´s duty is to handle the problem that emerged,
especially in certain neighborhoods and cities in Israel, to block
its border to labor migrants but not to be dragged to violence and
Meanwhile, local haredim have flocked to the torched building on
Jaffa Street, in order to observe the damage first hand. Some even
encouraged the hateful act, saying that "these people take the law
into their own hands."
Alula Debersai, 22, of Ethiopia, was injured in the fire: "I was in
bed when suddenly one of the Eritrean´s sleeping in the adjacent room
screaming. I tried to call the police but they didn´t answer. I then
broke the bedroom window and attempted to climb out, but the window
was barricaded," he explained.
"I then took a bucket and filled it with water in effort to
extinguish the flames. It was completely dark and I fell and hurt my
arm. When the ambulance came, the paramedics evacuated me to the
nearest hospital," Debersai added.
Standing in an empty, charred kitchen, Debersai said: "We don´t have
anything left. It´s all gone. I don´t have any clothes or a blanket
to sleep with."
Several local residents gave the migrants with blankets, food and
clothes. One of the migrants who was injured in the fire said
that "the other tenants are afraid to come back."
One of the local business owner´s said, "They (migrants) were living
in sub-human conditions." He further said that the illegal migrants
became a nuisance to some of the locals.
"They opened up a club and played loud music during the night. They
were always drunk and eventually some of the religious neighbors
began to complain. They warned the landlord not to rent them any
apartments," he said.
The Foreign Ministry published a statement in which it condemned the
arson attack, saying "there is no justification for this criminal
act." (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 06/04/12)
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