Clashes erupt as Israeli Ethiopians protest police violence in Jerusalem

 

 JERUSALEM, April 30 (Xinhua) — About 1,000 Israeli Ethiopians took to the streets in central Jerusalem Thursday evening in protest of police brutality and racism, and clashed with police forces.

Protesters marched toward the Paris Square in the city, blocking the traffic. They threw stones and glass bottles to security forces who tried to disperse them with stun grenades and tear gas.

Protesters then attempted to continue their march toward the nearby Prime Minister’s Residence, but were blocked by dozens of policemen.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat arrived at the epicenter of the rally, trying to calm tensions between the protesters and the police.

A spokesperson for Israel’s rescue service said that 15 people, including three policemen, were injured in the clashes.

The rally was triggered by a footage surfaced on Monday, in which two policemen in Holon, south of Tel Aviv, are shown to assault an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent without any apparent provocation.

Shortly after the demonstrations took place, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement calling for calm.

“I strongly condemn the beating of the Ethiopian Israel Defense Force soldier,” he said, adding that those responsible “will be held accountable.”

While promising that the government will take steps to ease Ethiopian Jews’ integration into the Israeli society, Netanyahu warned that “no one is allowed to take the law into their own hands.”

Protesters said besides police brutality, they also protested against racial discrimination.

“The Ethiopian community in Israel has always been discriminated … always felt the racism between the white and black people in Israel,” Avi Chai, a protester from southern Israel, told Xinhua.

Jews from Ethiopia arrived in Israel in two waves of immigration in 1984 and 1991. The community, which includes some 125,500 people, has struggled to integrate into Israeli society with little success. There have been complaints of discrimination in education and housing.

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