Twenty three policemen and seven protesters were hurt when police dispersed a protest by Ethiopian Jews at Rabin Square Sunday evening.
Over 2,000 Ethiopian Jews, mostly young, were chanting slogans against police in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv after 8:00 p.m. Sunday, after they blocked major thoroughfares in central Israel. Police attempted to disperse them with stun grenades, water cannon and pepper gas, but were unsuccessful. Some protesters attempted to overturn police cars, and reportedly threw rocks and firecrackers.
The Ethiopian Jews are protesting police brutality that they say is directed especially against dark-skinned Jews, and discrimination against the Ethiopian community on various levels. The trigger for the protests was a video, embedded below, that showed police attacking an Ethiopian soldier for no apparent reason.
The protesters blocked the Begin Highway and the entrance to the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv near the Azrieli Towers Sunday afternoon. They later blocked the Ayalon Highway itself. Police began clearing them from the road at about 7:00 p.m., after allowing them to block the major thoroughfares for three hours during afternoon rush hour.
MK Miri Regev (Likud) said that the demonstration in Tel Aviv “is out of place, does not serve the just struggle of the Ethiopian community, and must be stopped.”
"I understand the anger of the Ethiopian community and the subject of over-policing against members of the community must be investigated, by the Attorney General and the police,” she said.
An organizer of the protest, Mengistu Ganato, told Channel 1 that the groups that filled Rabin Square are not connected to the groups that blocked Ayalon Highway. That group, he said, moved out of the highway to the area next to the Arlozorov train station. Another protester told Channel 2 that certain organizations, which he refused to name, were behind the violence at Rabin Square, and that the majority of protesters were not interested in this violence and opposed it.
At about 8:00 p.m., Ayalon Highway had reopened to traffic after being blocked for three hours. Previously, the Ayalon Highway was blocked from the Halacha Interchange to the Ganot Interchange in both directions. In addition, Highway 1 was blocked from Ganot to Yagel, Highway 5 was blocked from Glilot to Morasha and Highway 4 was blocked from Morasha to Mesubim and from Ganot to Givat Shmuel.
Three days ago, a large scale protest by members of the Ethiopian community in Jerusalem resulted in a violent confrontation with police.
The protesters were chanting “a violent cop should be behind bars” and other slogans. They have also been crossing their arms up in the air, in a gesture that has been used in the Left-engineered “social protests” in Israel and elsewhere in the world in recent years.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will convene a discussion of the Ethiopian Jews' complaints Monday, and meet the soldier who was beaten by police. Participants in the discussion will include representatives of the Ethiopian community, representatives of government ministries, the Police Commissioner and other top policemen.
MK Dr. Avraham Nagosa (Likud) demanded Sunday that the government establish a commission of inquiry to examine the treatment of Ethiopians in Israel.
"Anger is a justified and legitimate protest, I would like to do anything without violence and legally with restraint on both sides," he stated to Arutz Sheva. "Violence is not our way."
"We will not give up until the phenomenon of police violence against the Ethiopian community, and every citizen in Israel, is eradicated," Nagosa stated. "Israel cannot be a country where every IDF soldier receives a brutal beating."
"We will continue to fight to ensure that racism disappears," he added. "I call on the police to 'clean house' and abide by the law."