The funeral procession for an Ethiopian-Israeli teenager who was killed by an off-duty Israeli police officer over the weekend made its way to the Tel Regev cemetery in Haifa, Tuesday afternoon.
Solomon Tekah, a member of the Ethiopian community in Israel, was fatally wounded Sunday night when an off-duty police officer spotted a group of young men fighting in the Kiryat Haim neighborhood of Haifa.
According to the officer who opened fire, when he tried to break up the fight, he was attacked by three of the young men, who allegedly hurled stones at him. Fearing for his life, the officer said, he opened fire at the ground to scare off his attackers.
One of the bullets ricocheted, he claimed, hitting and mortally wounding Tekah.
Hundreds joined the funeral procession for Tekah Tuesday afternoon, including some relatives who accused the police of murder.
"It's not 'killing', it's murder,” said Tekah’s cousin, Amir.
“What was he killed by? A work accident? Being hit by a car? When you take the kids out to the playground, do you go out with a gun? [The officer] saw a black man walking. And after the cop in Bat Yam was cleared of charges, what does an officer care about killing him?” Amir continued, referencing the death of Yehuda Biadga.
Biadga, a mentally-ill 24-year-old resident of Bat Yam and member of the Ethiopian community, was shot and killed this January when he was spotted brandishing a knife.
Tekah’s death, like that of Biadga, sparked protests in the Ethiopian community.
While the officer responsible for Tekah’s death has been taken off of duty and arrested as the investigation continues, protests across Israel broke out, including several violent demonstrations.
Three police officers were injured Monday night in Haifa, outside of a police station in the Kiryat Haim neighborhood where the shooting took place.
Hundreds of rioters clashed with police, throwing rocks and shooting fireworks at officers, prompting police to respond with stun grenades to break up the crowd.
Police expect the riots to continue after the funeral, while hoping to defuse the situation by reaching out to the Ethiopian community.
One thousand demonstrators remained gathered Tuesday outside of the Kiryat Haim police station where three officers were injured, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP Tuesday afternoon.
“Yesterday evening there were disturbances in Kiryat Haim. Three police officers were injured," he said.
"There were about 1,000 people in the area of the police station.”
"Police are speaking to leaders of the Ethiopian community to calm the situation down,” added Rosenfeld.”
Aside from the riots in Kiryat Haim, most of the protests Monday night were peaceful, but included lengthy traffic disruptions as demonstrators blocked roads including Highway 4 in central Israel.