Several thousand Ethiopian Israelis marched in Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon in the second major protest in less than a week against police brutality.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to meet on Monday with representatives of the community as well as the soldier whose beating by police triggered the demonstrations. Last Thursday, after a large demonstration in Yerushalayim, Netanyahu pledged that the perpetrators would be punished, but that the law must be respected.
Chief of Police Yohanan Danino said that the officer caught in a video hitting the soldier would be dismissed from the police force, pending a hearing.
“There is no room for such officers in the Israel Police,” he said. On Thursday, Danino told members of the Ethiopian community that a special team will examine the community’s complaints and formulate ways to deal with the problem.
On Sunday, violence marred the event, when police removed demonstrators who were blocking Ayalon highway, near Tel Aviv’s huge Azrieli shopping mall, during rush hour.
When protestors moved on to Rabin Square, where city hall is located, police employed pepper spray to disperse an unruly crowd. Some 300 officers and mounted police were on the street to keep matters under control.
The protesters were crossing their hands over their heads in a handcuffed gesture, and shouted “a violent cop should be jailed.”
On Friday, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino defended the officers involved in the clashes with Ethiopian Israelis last Thursday, insisting that they responded with “restraint” to violence directed at them.
“I would like to commend the officers for the restraint they exhibited,” he said in a letter addressed to them.
Three officers and over a dozen demonstrators were reportedly injured.
Former Yesh Atid MK, Ethiopian-born Pnina Tamano-Shata, told Army Radio: “The young generation that grew up in Israel is demanding, rightfully, equal opportunity. It is fed up with being discriminated against from a young age.”
“Apparently the streets of Israel must burn like they do in Baltimore in order for someone to finally wake up,” Gadi Yevarkan, head of the Campaign for Equality for Ethiopian Jews, told Ynet.
“To see a soldier in uniform beaten by policemen in uniform is confirmation of official policy that allows police to beat blacks without having to be accountable to state laws.”