Some 100 residents of southern Tel Aviv staged a demonstration in the Yad Eliyahu neighborhood Wednesday evening after a 22-year-old Sudanese migrant broke into a neighborhood home earlier in the day and allegedly tried to sexually assault an 8-year-old girl.
The demonstrators carried signs reading "southern Tel Aviv is a part of Tel Aviv too" and "leftists, let's see you live here" as well as signs calling on Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to resign for failing to do enough to improve public safety in the southern and eastern parts of the city.
Last year, a spate of violent attacks allegedly perpetrated by African infiltrators sparked strong anti-African sentiments in southern Tel Aviv and across the country. The protests have since subsided, but Wednesday's incident reignited the flame.
One of the demonstrators, Zehavit Bitton, said that "we are now living in fear in neighborhoods that were once wide open. Everyone is indoors behind locked doors. No one ever thinks of us unless there is a rape or a murder, but day-to-day life here is hell."
Yossi Dudian, 35, a resident of the area, said that "this incident is yet more proof that the writing is not only on the wall, it is a part of our reality. We have had everything here — murder, rape and sexual harassment. Robberies and thefts have become a matter of routine. We are not racist; we understand that they are also in distress. But their distress is inflicting impossible suffering on us and someone needs to hurry up and wake up to +do something about it."
The outrage erupted after an early morning incident in which only a couple's resourcefulness prevented the sexual assault of an eight-year-old girl. The police suspect that an illegal Sudanese infiltrator broke into the home of a family and tried to enter the girl's bed. The girl's parents, who woke up and fought off the intruder, saved her.
At around 5 a.m., a Yad Eliyahu resident heard muffled cries coming from her daughters' room. She went to see what was happening and was shocked to find a man lying on top of one of her daughters. She immediately pulled the attacker off and was stabbed in the stomach with a knife he had taken from the kitchen. The noise woke up the children's father, a martial arts expert, who pounced on the intruder, beat him and pinned him to the ground, tying him up with a telephone cord. The parents then summoned the police.
The mother, who was superficially stabbed, was taken to Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon along with her daughter. At the hospital, the daughter was tested for sexual trauma.
The girl's father said that "I woke up to the sound of screams. When I arrived I saw my wife wounded and bleeding, being attacked by an unknown assailant. I jumped on him and struggled with him and managed to subdue him. I tied him up and turned to help my family and call for help. As can be expected, we are all traumatized. We are not well."
The suspect is a Sudanese national who has been in Israel since the end of 2011. He has been unemployed. The police suspect that he had only entered the home with the intent of stealing property, but that when he entered the girls' room, his impulses apparently got the better of him.
The suspect's remand has been extended by six days and he remains in police custody.
Tel Aviv police superintendent in charge of neighborhood crimes, Alon Magen, explained that "the initial investigation suggests that the suspect entered the home through one of the ground floor windows with the intent to steal."
The mother and daughter are both healthy and they were expected to be released from the hospital on Thursday.
Police have stepped up patrols in the area with the aim of inspiring a sense of security among residents and to prevent retaliatory attacks against foreigners.
"The burden of dealing with illegal infiltrators falls on the residents of the southern part of the city," said Huldai in a statement Wednesday. "We have to restore their sense of personal security under the current circumstances, until the fence is completed and the border is sealed. The migrant workers need to be allowed to work, which will reduce their distress and the crime rate."