Traffic jams caused by Ethiopian community's protest
Traffic jams caused by Ethiopian community's protest Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Wednesday that the protest of the Ethiopian immigrants was justified even though he criticized the violent riots that accompanied their protest.

In an interview with Channel 13 News, Erdan said, "I have been in a dialogue with the leaders of the Ethiopian community since the morning, we have not yet reached conclusions. The idea was to find more steps that could contribute to calming the spirits. We wanted to prevent pictures like the ones we saw yesterday. Because that was not a protest - it was just a wave of vandalism and violence. And I’m certain that they also understand that this hurts both them as well as their justified struggle."

The scale of the demonstrations of the Ethiopian community “is different from everything we have known in the past,” he continued. “It is impossible to understand its scope and where it will focus. It was based on calls on social media and even on incitement."

The police officer who shot and killed 19-year-old Solomon Tekah in Haifa in the incident that led to the demonstrations is now under house arrest at a hotel after receiving threats to his life.

"Of course, the policeman's actions raise difficult questions," Erdan said. "In such a situation, a policeman is not supposed to get to the point where he pulls out a weapon, and certainly not get to a point where he is shooting, but the question of whether this is criminal or not is a question for the prosecution."

"I, too, have criticism of the police and also self-criticism. There are still things that need to be corrected, even though many things have already been done to correct," continued Erdan. "The idea was to find more steps that could contribute to calming the situation. The issue of the public's mistrust in the investigations of the Department for the Investigation of Police came up, and how we can, as a government, increase the confidence in the way the Department deals with such complaints. Other steps were discussed as well."

"The police, in order to succeed and evacuate such violent demonstrators, must use harsh measures and the commanders in the field decided to try to reduce casualties and not to use force that would cause injuries. The traffic jams are a great nuisance, but [by blocking roads] we prevented an escalation that would have looked completely different," Erdan said, noting that he expected a faster evacuation of protesters from the busy roads.