Ethiopian Jewish protests continue in Israel, caused by the killing of a young man of Ethiopian descent. An Ethiopian was reportedly shot dead by a police officer who was not on duty. The incident itself sparked new accusations of racism by the Israeli police.
According to police, on Tuesday, crowds of Ethiopian Israelis clashed with police and blocked highways at least 15 crossroads across the country. 47 officers and 60 demonstrators were injured.
Thousands of motorists are stuck in huge traffic jams.
It all started with the murder a few days earlier of Solomon Tek, a 19-year-old Israeli of Ethiopian origin. It is reported that a group of Ethiopian teenagers fought in the park, and a police officer who was there as a private person tried to calm them down. As a result, one of the young people got a bullet in the head – the police claim that it was unintentional: allegedly a shot was fired at the ground, but the bullet ricocheted.
However, this is not the first such incident. Earlier this year, a policeman shot another representative of the Ethiopian community, and according to his relatives, a policeman shot when he could calm the suspect with an electric shock or a shot in the air.
In both cases, according to the Ethiopian community, the killings would not have happened if the dead were not black Africans.
The killing of Solomon Teck caused anger among members of the Ethiopian community, who say that their young people live in constant fear of persecution by the police because they are black.
Dozens of protesters in Haifa blocked traffic at the central intersection, as the outraged motorists buzzed their horns and the police watched from a safe distance.
“We will do everything we can to stop the police from killing people because of the color of their skin,” one of the protesters called himself Mengisto told AFP.
“We don’t know whether it will happen again or not,” the 26-year-old said of the shooting on Sunday.
“But we need confidence that the state or the police give us guarantees that this will not happen.”
These words are better understood if we recall that in the past five years, 15 Israelis have been shot by police in similar incidents. Most of them were Ethiopians, Arabs, or Jews from the Middle East (similar to Arabs). No policeman was punished.
AFP correspondents reported that the police allowed the demonstrators to block roads in some places, trying to minimize direct clashes.
But later in the evening, after the updated data showed a large number of wounded officers, the police stated that they would no longer allow the protesters to act violently and rob property.
“Accordingly, the police use force to clear all roads,” a police statement said.
Later on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video stating that “everyone mourns the tragic death of Solomon Thek.”
Recognizing that “there are problems that need to be solved,” Netanyahu called on demonstrators to “stop blocking intersections.”
“I ask you, let’s solve problems together, adhering to the law,” he said.
The Ethiopian Jewish community of Israel has about 140,000 people, including more than 50,000 born in the country.
Most of them are descendants of communities cut off from the Jewish world for centuries, and which were lately recognized as Jews by the religious authorities of Israel.
Israel received tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews in the 1980s and 1990s.
However, the Ethiopian Jewish community is constantly subject to racist incidents. For most Jews, Ethiopian Falash Jews are culturally much farther away even than Palestinian Arabs. At the same time, they are constantly a living reminder that the Jewish nation, represented as an “outpost of Western civilization”, is a construct that includes African and Middle Eastern elements – much more than I would like to recognize European and American Ashkenazi Jews. Imagine that you are torn from arrogance and pride in your “civilization” compared to “pales” and “arabiem”, and it turns out that the idea of your state requires that you share a place in the house with people who are matches for the first time saw only in Israel.
The duality of the position of the Ethiopian Jews in Israel is expressed both in the rampant racism of numerous Jewish commentators in social networks and in the indecisiveness of the Israeli authorities, who act much harsher when the Arabs revolt.