Ethiopian Israelis stage peaceful protest in Tel Aviv

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Approximately 1,000 Ethiopian Israelis protested in Tel Aviv against police brutality.

The protest, which began Monday afternoon and grew as it continued into the night, saw protesters march up the city’s central Rothschild Boulevard, stopping at major public squares and blocking intersections. The protest ended at the central Rabin Square.

Demonstraters led chants protesting police brutality against Ethiopians. Earlier this month, a video spread of a policeman beating an Ethiopian Israeli soldier in uniform.

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That video sparked a similar protest two weeks ago. That protest ended in a meelee at Rabin Square, with arrests and dozens of police and protesters injured. At that protest, police threw stun grenades and used a water cannon to disperse the crowd.

No such conflict happened Monday. Protesters chanted “A violent policeman needs to be put away,” “No matter black or white, racism is the devil,” and “We won’t allow a black person to be unfortunate.”

A scuffle between police and protesters broke out after protesters spotted an Ethiopian Israeli police officer and chanted, “Ethiopian, take off your uniform.”

“This is a generation of youth, a generation of fighters, a generation of courageous people,” Yaakov Gadasho, one of the protest leaders, said into a megaphone at Rabin Square. “One day we’ll bring out the whole community. One day they’ll know these are people.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the appointment of a special ministerial committee to address the integration of Ethiopian Israelis into broader society.

“There is no room for racism and discrimination in our society. None,” Netanyahu said. “We will fight with all our strength against these unacceptable practices. We will simply uproot them from our lives. We will turn them into something looked down upon, something contemptible.”

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