Ethiopian Protests Set to Renew, Organizers Say

YERUSHALAYIM -
A car is seen on fire during a protest following the death of 19-year-old Ethiopian, Solomon Teka who was shot and killed last week, in Tel Aviv, Tuesday. (Flash90)

Leaders of the protests held by the Ethiopian community in Israel in recent days said they were likely to renew their protests this week, Channel 12 reported. In conversations with the station, the protest organizers said that the protests were needed “to ensure that there is not another Solomon Teka.”

The protests would come despite requests by the family of the slain youth that the protests in the name of Solomon be reduced. “We understand their feelings but this is about the community, not just about Solomon. Any one of us could be a victim,” the organizers said.

Police are preparing for the renewed protests with new strategies that will contain the protests. In the protests that took place last Tuesday, groups virtually shut down traffic throughout the center of the country. “They were very strategic,” said Shmuel, one driver who was stuck in a monumental traffic jam. “They blocked every major highway in the center of the country, so there were no alternate routes. My usual one hour drive took six and a half hours.”

Teka was shot last Sunday night by an off-duty policeman under circumstances that are not clear. According to police, the officer was in a park with his family during the evening hours of Sunday, when he noticed a fight breaking out among some teenagers. The off-duty officer tried to intervene and break up the fight. He identified himself as a police officer, but the youths then began throwing rocks at him. Police said the officer felt his life was in danger, and he opened fire. It is not clear if he was aiming at Teka, but the youth was mortally wounded. He was rushed to Rambam Hospital in Haifa, where he died of his wounds. Witnesses said that Teka was shot when he tried to run away from the officer.

Later theories said that the officer had shot into the ground and that the bullet had ricocheted back, hitting Teka and killing him. The officer has been suspended, and was arrested, questioned and released. He is said to be in hiding with his family. In an interview with Kan News, the officer said that had he not opened fire, “my family and I would be dead by now. They were already advancing on us with their knives drawn.”

Several reports said that Teka had had a criminal record, and had been under house arrest. The family of Teka denied this and released a statement Saturday night saying that they were “shocked and sorrowed at the terrible rumors that are being bandied about, all of which are lies about Solomon. These leaks are designed to incite the public against Solomon and to deflect from the main issue – that he was an Israeli Ethiopian who was shot to death by a police officer, despite being unarmed. Every person, regardless of creed or color, deserves a chance at life, and deserves the right to walk down the street in safety.”