For a second time in recent weeks, some 1,000 protesters gathered in central Tel Aviv on Monday, May 18, from 3 pm to 11 pm to demonstrate against police brutality and discrimination against the Ethiopian-Israeli community. But while this week’s zigzagging procession across the city center was undisturbed by police violence, it was beset by infighting.
Ethiopian Israelis and their supporters have staged demonstrations across the country since the releasing of video footage last month in which a police officer and police volunteer are seen assaulting an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier, Yosef Salamsa, in Holon.
Organizers invited protesters to Monday’s demonstration via a Facebook event, encouraging people to arrive at 3:00 pm at the corner of Allenby Street and Rothschild Boulevard, an area close to Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, from where they marched towards the Habima Theater chanting slogans in Hebrew: “A violent cop must be locked up!”; “No to violence! Yes to unity!”; and “The nation demands social justice!” Many of the marchers crossed their arms held above their heads, as if handcuffed, to protest the “police state.”
Israel has about 135,500 Jewish Israeli citizens of Ethiopian descent, including more than 50,000 born in the country. The community has long complained of discrimination, racism, and poverty. More than half of the Ethiopians in Israel live in poverty and only half graduate high school. In 2013, Israel admitted to forcibly administering birth control injections to Ethiopian Jewish women without their consent or knowledge.
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