Clashes as Ethiopian Jews Protest Police Brutality

After officer assaults Ethiopian soldier, 200 Ethiopian Jews block streets outside national police headquarters in Jerusalem.

Hezki Baruch, Ari Yashar,

Ethiopian Jews protest outside police HQ
Ethiopian Jews protest outside police HQ
Hezki Ezra

Around 200 Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia protested on Thursday afternoon in front of the national police headquarters in Jerusalem, following several recent incidents of police violence against Ethiopians including the shocking assault of an Ethiopian Jewish soldier on Sunday.

The protesters blocked Chaim Bar-Lev Street as well as the path of the Jerusalem light rail.

Large police forces were on scene trying to disperse the protest using mounted officers and various dispersal means. The officers prevented the protesters from entering the national headquarters.

"No to discrimination, no to racism. Democracy is in danger, the police are violent," shouted the Ethiopian protesters.

Gadi Yevarkan, director of the Center for Social Equality for Ethiopian Jews, said "this is the price of abandonment and racism over the course of years. Our youth is in despair, and this is only the beginning if the state does not act."

Earlier on Thursday leading activists in the Ethiopian Jewish community met with Police Chief Yohanan Danino to discuss the recent violent incidents.

It was decided to establish a joint team between the police and representatives of the Ethiopian community to improve relations between the community and the police, as well as to strengthen the confidence of the community in the police.

The issue was brought into national attention on Sunday when a police officer was caught on a security camera brutally assaulting an Ethiopian Jewish soldier in uniform in the coastal city of Holon.

The soldier was trying to go home when he came across the officer who told him the street was closed. After the soldier again requested that he be let pass, the officer suddenly attacked him, striking him repeatedly before throwing him violently to the ground.

The officer was suspended as an investigation was launched into the incident, with Danino announcing he would be fired. Video of the violent assault can be seen below.

Amid the protest, President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday afternoon met a delegation of over 80 Ethiopian Jewish students at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem.

Speaking about the video of the officer brutally beating an Ethiopian soldier, Rivlin said, "the shock that we all felt when we saw those pictures - which I am pleased to say immediately led the Israeli Police to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident and its awful outcome - is still deeply felt." 

Reuven Rivlin meets Ethiopian students Mark Neyman/GPO

"We cannot sit back in the face of anger and shouting – incidents such as these must serve as a warning sign, and an opportunity to conduct some genuine and thorough introspection on the issue of the relationship between the law enforcement services and the different communities which make up Israeli society," Rivlin continued.

"I believe, and have even discussed with the Chief of Police, that the police will do all in its power to conduct an investigation and correct what needs correcting, to ensure such events are not repeated," promised the president.



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