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Ethiopian-Israelis' protest against police violence is met with police violence

Police use stun grenades, violence against protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, sparked by video of two officers beating a black Israeli soldier. Dozens reported injured, at least 26 arrested.

Photos by Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen, Keren Manor / Activestills
Text by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

Protesters scatter as police use stun grenades to disperse a protest by Israeli of Ethiopian descent demonstrating against police violence, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Protesters scatter as police use stun grenades to disperse a protest by Israeli of Ethiopian descent demonstrating against police violence, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

A protest by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against discriminatory police brutality was met with police violence for the second time in a matter of days, this time in central Tel Aviv on Sunday.

Police used stun grenades, water cannons, riot officers and mounted officers to disperse several thousand protesters who arriving in Rabin Square some five hours after the demonstration began elsewhere in the city.

There were dozens of injuries reported by protesters and police. A police spokesperson later said that 26 people were arrested. Activists indicated that more protesters were in police custody.

The protest followed a similar demonstration in Jerusalem Thursday night, which was a response to video of Israeli police beating an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent.

Protesters flipped over a police car in Rabin square and were throwing plastic bottles at officers.

A number of members of Knesset joined the protest when it started. The protesters soon descended onto Tel Aviv’s main freeway, blocking traffic in both directions for hours.

Eventually police used force to clear the freeway and the protesters continued marching toward the city’s most famous square, Rabin Square.

A protest by Israeli of Ethiopian descent against police violence blocks Tel Aviv’s main freeway, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

A protest by Israeli of Ethiopian descent against police violence blocks Tel Aviv’s main freeway, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Mounted police ready to disperse protest by Israeli of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Mounted police ready to disperse protest by Israeli of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Protesters set fire to trash in the street at a demonstration by Israeli of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Protesters set fire to trash in the street at a demonstration by Israeli of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Protesters sit in the road at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Protesters sit in the road at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

A police horse reacts to a flurry of stun grenades thrown by police at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

A police horse reacts to a flurry of stun grenades thrown by police at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Police arrest a protester at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Police arrest a protester at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

“I was in the Border Police and I’ve never seen stun grenades used at a protest [in Israel],” protester tells Channel 10. “We’re Israelis, we’re Jews.”

Even in the most tense and violent days of Tel Aviv’s social protests in 2011 and 2012, in nights when bank windows were broken and 90 people arrested, police did not use crowd control means generally reserved for the West Bank and Arab protesters.

In late 2014, intense protests against discriminatory police violence took place in the northern Israeli town of Kafr Kana after Israeli police killed an Arab man while he was fleeing. Earlier this year, massive protests took place after police killed two unarmed Arab men in the southern city of Rahat.

Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh was one of the only public figures to make the connection between the various struggles against police violence directed at specific racial or ethnic groups in Israel.

“As a member of the Arab population, which suffers from racism and violence by the police it was only natural for me to join the protest by the Ethiopian population today in Tel Aviv,” Odeh said in a statement. “I promise to stand and struggle by their side until there is a more equal and just society here, in which there is no difference between black and white, man and woman, Jew and Arab.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Sunday that he would hold meetings with representatives of Israelis of Ethiopian descent, including the soldier whose beating sparked the current round of protests.

Video by ‘The Hottest Place in Hell’:

Correction:
This article has been corrected to reflect that the previous protest took place Thursday night and not Saturday, as was mistakenly stated.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Jello

      The police let the protesters block all traffic on Tel Aviv’s biggest intersection for three hours. That went on for three hours while people were stuck in their cars and it was all done completely peacefully by the police. The protesters then marched on to Rabin Square where they started attacking the police. There were more police injured than protesters. The protesters have my sympathy but they have crossed the line with attacks on police.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        “The protesters have my sympathy but they have crossed the line with attacks on police. ”

        Ditto

        Reply to Comment
    2. Michal

      Please check your facts before you report. The police violence at the protest tonight didn’t start until a minority of protesters tried to break into the city hall and began rioting. When the protestors were blocking the Ayalon freeway for three hours, the police let them protest because it was peaceful. This is one of the main freeways in Israel, servicing more than a million Israelis each day. The police allowed them to block the freeway during rush hour. Is that not restraint?

      Reply to Comment
    3. PedroX

      Damas Pakada, the Ethiopian-born IDF soldier who was assaulted by police in Holon on Sunday, April 27, 2015 has condemned the attacks against Israeli policemen by demonstrators rioting in Tel Aviv.

      So far 23 Israeli policemen are reported to have been injured by flying bottles and other projectiles hurled at them during the violent riots. The Times of Israel has pictures of bloodied policemen who were attacked and injured.

      Reply to Comment
      • phil

        What did anyone expect.. kushim are almost as low on the ladder of humanity as Palestinians so of course the police used stun grenades and so on.. it’s not like they’re real jews anyway is it??

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          That’s why the country mobilized forces to bring tens of thousands of them into Israel, because Israelis are racist and don’t consider them to be true Jews. Any other stupid remarks?

          The authors of this piece are really embarrassing themselves by misleading regarding how the violence began. The police was very measured until some of the more extreme protesters began to use force. Even then, the number of injured policemen is similar to injured protesters, which should tell everyone something. That’s not to say Israel’s police deserves prizes, they don’t, but publishing Israel-demonizing stories in English for your international audience and your kind foreign donors really undermines your mission as a news publication.

          Reply to Comment
          • phil

            @ Bar.. one word… demographics.. that’s why these people were brought to Israel

            The same reason why hundreds of thousands of russians with tenuous ties to judaism were shipped in.. demographics

            But now the uppity blacks are demanding to be treated with dignity and respect and look what happens..

            I don’t know of any other demonstrators within Israel that the cops used stun grenades against.. except of course the second-class palestinian citizens

            Reply to Comment
    4. New Relic

      More divide and conquer nonsense by the editorial agenda of 972 mag

      Reply to Comment
    5. Weiss

      What’s important to remember is that the violence in Baltimore and Israel didn’t emerge from nothing. It has its roots in injustice. Treat people fairly and the problem goes away. Use the rioting as an excuse to implement loony martial law strategies, and reap the whirlwind. That’s the choice, isn’t it?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ben

      “Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh was one of the only public figures to make the connection between the various struggles against police violence directed at specific racial or ethnic groups in Israel.”

      I like Ayman Odeh. He’s the kind of transcending leader Israel needs. Maybe someday he’ll be Prime Minister.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jello

        Prime Minister, no. President, maybe..

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Well if an Arab Prime Minister seems just impossible and unacceptable to you you’d better do something quick about that burgeoning one state “solution” you’re crafting on the ground. And even if Israel remains a Jewish majority state, why can’t it have a PM from the minority?

          Reply to Comment
          • Ricky Rocket

            Excuse you Brian? The same things were said about Shimon Perrs. #brianfailsagain. And this,politician is from the Commumist Party. Do you not see,this as a rate limiting factor? There is really something wrong with you.

            Reply to Comment
    7. Bar

      Journalist who was injured points out that the police tried very hard to keep things quiet and peaceful. Only when hundreds of protesters challenged 8 policemen on the steps of the city hall, did the police shoot tear gas to disperse them and that’s when the violence began.

      http://www.tel-avivtimes.com/51910?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

      Reply to Comment