More than 100 people have been injured in clashes between rival groups of protesters from Eritrea in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv with the police firing warning shots in the air to disperse the demonstrators.
Fighting broke out on Saturday after hundreds of Eritreans critical of their government approached a venue where a pro-government event was being held.
Protesters broke through police barriers and smashed windows of police and other cars as well as windows of nearby stores, the Haaretz newspaper reported. They were also able to enter the venue near the Eritrean embassy and smash up chairs and tables.
Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical service, said it treated 114 people, eight of whom were in serious condition.
Footage on social media showed Eritrean government supporters beating anti-government protesters with clubs. Reuters journalists saw men with head wounds and bloodied arms, some lying on the ground of a children’s playground.
Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said the police did not anticipate the intensity of the violence that broke out.
“The demonstrators were able to break through the barriers pretty rapidly. The police had to respond with tear gas, stun grenades. There were running battles between the demonstrators and the police in riot equipment,” he said.
“At least 30 police officers were injured in the clashes,” Brennan said, adding that there are questions if the police could have better responded.
Police said they arrested 39 suspects “who assaulted police and threw stones” at officers. Some of them were carrying weapons, tear gas and an electrical stun gun, officers said.