Indictments were filed against three Eritrean asylum seekers for the Tel Aviv murder last month of a fellow migrant who was a supporter of the Eritrean regime.
The indictments, filed Tuesday at the Tel Aviv District Court, accused the men of stabbing and beating Kiros Barigever on December 3, 2019, causing him serious injuries. Barigever died days later in the hospital.
A fourth Eritrean migrant was charged with assault.
According to court papers the accused ambushed their victim as he rode along Hatikva Street in Tel Aviv, attacking him with metal bars and a knife they had brought with them.
After the assault on Barigever, the group went on to attack two other Eritrean asylum seekers on the same evening, according to the indictment, the Ynet website reported.
The death came against a background of ongoing violence in the Eritrean asylum seeker community between those who support the regime in their home country and those who oppose it. The fighting, which has become increasingly violent, has led to a turf war in which each side controls some streets in the areas where the migrants live in south Tel Aviv, Haaretz reported.
The death last month was the first fatality from the clashes.
Although migrants who are supporters of the Eritrean regime, and therefore not under threat of persecution, in theory do not quality for refugee status under UN guidelines, Israeli authorities do not distinguish between asylum seekers based on their political affiliations, Haaretz reported.
Some 40,000 or so Sudanese and Eritrean migrants have made their way to Israel, often to South Tel Aviv. While nongovernmental organizations in Israel and Jewish and civil rights group abroad consider them refugees, opponents regard them as “infiltrators” who came to Israel for economic reasons, not fleeing persecution.
The majority of African asylum seekers arrived in Israel between 2006 and 2012. In 2010, the height of the wave of asylum seekers crossing from Sinai to Israel, 1,300 people illegally crossed the border each month.
Once they crossed the border, Israeli soldiers brought them for processing to holding facilities coordinated with the Population Authority. Afterward, many were given bus tickets to Tel Aviv’s central bus station, but no other services.
JTA contributed to this report.