Violence erupts as Ethiopian Israelis protest racism in Tel Aviv
Demonstrators decry delay in prosecution of police officer who was filmed beating a soldier of Ethiopian descent • Five people arrested, no one injured • Police investigate Facebook call to “ignite Tel Aviv, blast the police with rocks.”
Shlomi Diaz, Yehuda Shlezinger and Reuters
Demonstrators clash with police on Wednesday
Photo credit: KOKO
There were no reported injuries, but the confrontation lasted for hours.
Israelis of Ethiopian heritage protesting against racism clashed with police on Wednesday and tried to block major traffic arteries in Tel Aviv. Five people were arrested for disturbing the peace and assaulting police officers.
Last month Tel Aviv saw its most violent demonstration in years when police on horseback charged at hundreds of protesters after a video emerged of police beating an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier. No decision has been made to prosecute the police officer seen in the video, sparking Wednesday’s repeat protest.
The Tel Aviv police department did not approve Wednesday’s demonstration in advance, but did deploy in large numbers in preparation for potential violence in light of the events of the previous month.
Police have launched an investigation into a Facebook post ahead of the demonstration calling to “ignite Tel Aviv, take the event out of control, hit civilians, deal a real blow to all state institutions, including the Kirya [military headquarters] and blast the police with rocks.”
One of the protesters, Yosef Ganau, told Israel Hayom that “they want to shut us up with a bunch of committees that will do nothing but dissolve our protest efforts. We will not let that happen.”
Esther Orian, another protester, said that “the situation has to change, and we will be the ones to change it. Even if two hundred more people are arrested.”
The Tel Aviv police department issued a statement saying that “the police will continue taking a zero tolerance approach with demonstrators who violate the law.”
Ethiopian Jews, among them thousands Israel airlifted in dramatic top-secret operations in the 1980s and 1990s, have long complained of discrimination in the country
Ethiopian Jews, among them thousands Israel airlifted in dramatic top-secret operations in the 1980s and 1990s, have long complained of discrimination in the country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to address their grievances and has formed a cabinet committee to improve their integration.
At the panel’s first session on Tuesday, Netanyahu denounced the notion of Israelis discriminating against others, “because of the color of their skin, this is infuriating and we will fix it.”
Israel is home to some 135,000 people of Ethiopian heritage.