Police accused of "institutionalized racism". Solomon Teka was killwd by an off-duty agent, now under investigation: witnesses deny his version. In the protests 47 policemen were injured and 60 protesters arrested. Netanyahu: "We solve problems together, according to the law."
Tel Aviv (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Protesters belonging to the Ethiopian community of Israel yesterday clashed with the police, during protests following the murder of a young man at the hands of an off-duty officer: the incident fueled new accusations of racism against the Tel Aviv Security Forces.
Protesters faced agents and blocked highways at at least 15 intersections across the country. According to the authorities, 47 policemen were injured and 60 protesters are under arrest. Thousands of drivers were stuck in huge traffic jams.
Solomon Teka, who reportedly was 18 or 19, was buried yesterday after being shot dead in Kiryat Haim, near the northern city of Haifa, on June 30. His murder sparked outrage among members of the Ethiopian community. They say that their young people, because they are black, live in constant fear of police harassment.
Following the death of Teka, at first the police reported that the officer saw a clash between "a number of young people" nearby and tried to calm tensions. After the officer identified himself, the young people started throwing stones at him. A police statement said the man opened fire on Teka after "feeling that his life was in danger".
The Israeli media reveals that the other young people and a witness denied that the policeman had been attacked. Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, announced that the agent is under house arrest and an investigation is being carried out by the department of the Ministry of Justice investigating police conduct.
Protests broke out on the streets yesterday with bonfires and tire fires. Some protesters vandalized vehicles attempting to evade improvised blocks. Police allowed protesters to block roads in some locations, taking care to keep the chances of confrontation to a minimum.
Late in the evening, when reports showed the high number of wounded officers, the police issued a statement stating that they would no longer allow protesters to act violently and carry out vandalism. "As a result, the police used force to clear all roads," a subsequent statement said.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, published a video late in the evening stating that "everyone is in mourning for the tragic death of Solomon Teka". While acknowledging that "there are problems to be solved", Netanyahu asked the protesters to "stop the junction blocks". "I ask you, let us solve problems together, according to the law," he said.
Known as falascia or Beta Israel, the Ethiopian Jewish community of Israel has about 140,000 members, including over 50,000 born in the country. Most of them descend from communities cut off from the Jewish world for centuries.
Only in 1975 the rabbinate and the Israeli government recognized their Jewish identity, opening the doors to their arrival. Israel welcomed tens of thousands of Ethiopians in the 1980s and 1990s through the Law of Return. The community has often complained about "institutionalized racism".