Jews of Ethiopian Descent Protest Against Police Brutality in Israel

מחאת יוצאי אתיופיה ת"אClashes erupted in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Sunday as thousands of people gathered to protest police brutality toward Israeli Jews of Ethiopian descent.

Dozens of people were injured, many of them police officers. Police made 43 arrests. Later, police stated that 56 police officers were lightly wounded in the protest, and one was moderately wounded.

Police fired stun grenades and tear gas while some protesters tried to break into the Tel Aviv City Hall, located at the square. Other protesters hurled rocks, planks and plastic and glass bottles at police.

The protest began near the Kaplan Interchange, where protesters blocked major arteries and junctions, including the Ayalon South freeway and Hashalom Interchange, as well as surrounding streets. Protesters also marched along Derech Begin towards the train station but were blocked by police.

Later on, the protest moved to Rabin Square as police gradually opened the blocked roads.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for calm on Sunday evening, saying that all complaints must be investigated “but there is no place for such violence and lawlessness.”

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said on Sunday evening that the police will bring to justice anyone who hurt civilians and policemen, adding that the rally “was not a legitimate protest in a democratic state” and blaming a handful of agitators for harming the Israeli Ethiopians’ struggle.

“Most of the claims made by Ethiopian Israelis are not police-related at all,” he said. “There is a deeper problem here of their assimilation. I do take responsibility and I think we have a problem with some of the cases mentioned, and we will handle it.”

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitz agreed that some of the complaints against the police were justified.

“There were events that need to be examined,” he said. “And the police also has to check itself. All government and municipal offices need to provide a comprehensive solution.”

On Monday, Netanyahu will host a meeting attended by Ethiopian Israeli community leaders as well as Demas Fekadeh, the soldier who was filmed being beaten by police officers. The meeting will also include representatives from the Public Security Ministry, the Welfare Ministry, the Absorption Ministry, the Interior Ministry, municipal offices and police command.


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