At least 40 people injured during anti-racism rally in Tel Aviv sparked by brutality against a black soldier.

Israeli police have fired stun grenades and water cannon on thousands of ethnic Ethiopian Jewish citizens in an attempt to clear one of the most violent protests in memory in the heart of Tel Aviv.

The protesters, Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, were demonstrating on Sunday against what they said was police racism and brutality after a video clip emerged last week showing policemen shoving and punching a black soldier.

Demonstrators overturned a police car and threw bottles and stones at officers in riot gear at Rabin Square in the heart of Israel’s commercial capital.

Israel’s Channel 2 television said tear gas was also used, something the police declined to confirm.

“I’ve had enough of this behaviour by the police, I just don’t trust them any more … when I see the police I spit on the ground,” one female demonstrator who was not identified told Channel 2 before police on horseback had charged.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Jerusalem, said the Israeli Red Cross said at least 40 people, including 23 police officers, were injured in the protest.

Hanna said the protest began peacefully when demonstrators brought evening rush hour traffic to a standstill for more than an hour by blocking one of the city’s main highways.

There was no immediate sign of demonstrators dispersing and some protest orgainsers told Israeli media that sections of the crowd had been incited to violence.

Hanna said that it was notable that the injuries weren’t more serious, when Israeli police clashes with Palestinian protesters often ended with far more severe injuries or deaths.

“All suffered light injuries to the head and upper body,” Hanna said.

“Very clearly, the Israeli police are capable of riot control that does not involve the loss of human life or severe injury.”

Source: Al Jazeera

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