International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Anti-Police Protest in Israel Turns Violent

The New York Times reported Sunday that violence broke out in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, after thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis took to the streets to protest police brutality and discrimination. The uprising mirrors the protests which took place in Ferguson, New York City, and most recently Baltimore, which erupted after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. The demonstrations started peacefully—with Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters marching past government offices and shutting down traffic—however, violence erupted when protestors hurled rocks and overturned a police vehicle and clashed with police. Prime Minister Benjamin Netahyahu’s message to protestors was that “All claims will be looked into but there is no place for violence and such disturbances.”

The unrest was triggered by a video that depicts a police officer beating an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier in uniform for no apparent reason. Among the demonstrators, two interviewees reported having undergone similar experiences in which they were unjustly beaten by police. The police chief announced that the officer caught on tape beating the Ethiopian-Israeli soldier has been fired. A similar, small-scale demonstration took place in Jerusalem last Thursday, which also ended in violence.

Similar to the sentiment felt by blacks in the United States, an associate professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev reported that “Ethiopian-Israelis perceived themselves, much like blacks in the United States, as subject to “overpolicing,” including racial profiling; being stopped and arrested more often than other, “white,” Israelis; and being treated with a tougher hand.” The Israeli government has responded to the protests, and violence which has resulted, at a much quicker pace than the United States, taking measures in an effort to improve the system. It will be interesting to see what Ethiopian-Israeli protestors can learn from African-American protestors and vice versa, as well as what the Israeli government can learn from the US government and vice versa.


One response to “Anti-Police Protest in Israel Turns Violent

  1. CRuj May 3, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    In the 1980s and 1990s, tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews were airlifted into Israel in secret operations. There are now around 135,000 Ethiopian Jews living in Israel, whom face discrimination and brutality. Ethiopian Jews have suffered discrimination in the form of housing property, income, educational opportunities, and incarceration. In a rally in Tel Aviv, thousands of Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin faced violence and discrimination.

    Police in Israel fired teargas and stun grenades into the crowd of protesting ethnic Ethiopians. The protest was against police brutality and racism, which turned violent when demonstrators attempted to enter the city’s municipality building. As of now, at least 20 officers were hurt and 26 people were arrested.

    The protests started peacefully with protesters blocking a road and walking with their hands held together in the air. During the protest, many protesters held their hands in the air to signify handcuffs. Later the demonstration became violent. Some demonstrators threw stones, bottles, and chairs. The violence erupted when protesters attempted to charge the city’s municipality building.

    Essentially, Ethiopian Jews are revolting against police brutality in Israel.
    The protests started after a video of an Israeli solider of Ethiopian descent being beaten by police in Tel Aviv surfaced. Since the release of the video, two officers have been suspended on charges of excessive force.

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