Netanyahu condemns police beating of Ethiopian soldier, but calls for calm amid protests

Addis Ababa, 2 May 2015 (WIC) – Violence erupted in downtown Jerusalem on Thursday night, as more than a thousand Ethiopian Israelis and their supporters clashed with police in a protest against the beating of an Ethiopian IDF soldier earlier this week.

Ten demonstrators and three officers sustained light wounds, and two protesters were arrested, police said.

The protest, which moved from Israel Police headquarters in Sheikh Jarrah to Agron Street, near the Prime Minister’s Residence, was triggered by a video that showed two policemen in Holon assaulting the soldier in uniform in an apparently unprovoked attack.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said clashes broke out after demonstrators refused to disperse while blocking a public artery.
“After receiving announcements that they must leave, the demonstrators continued to march, forcing police to disperse the crowd using forceful means,” he said. “The protesters began throwing rocks and bottles at police while trying to fend them off.”

Two of the three officers who were wounded were taken to the hospital, five of the wounded demonstrators were hospitalized, and Magen David Adom paramedics treated several others on the scene, Rosenfeld said. Two men accused of throwing projectiles at police were arrested and remain in custody, he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for calm following the protest.
“I strongly condemn the beating of the Ethiopian IDF soldier, and those responsible will be held accountable,” he said. With that, he added, “it is forbidden for anyone to take the law into his own hands.”

Netanyahu said that the immigrants from Ethiopia are “dear to us,” and that the state is making great efforts to ease their integration into society.

“We will continue to do so in the next government as well,” he said.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said, “It is important for us listen to them. They are people who are very frustrated; and this is a red flag for Israel.” (jpost.com)

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