Security forces have fired pepper spray, stun grenades during a protest against racism and police violence, staged by Jews of Ethiopian descent in Tel Aviv. Some 23 policemen and at least 23 protesters have been injured in the clashes.
Protesters tried to break into the City Hall, according to Haaretz.Demonstrators also overturned a police car and threw bottles and stones at officers in riot gear at central Rabin Square.
At least 26 protesters were arrested following clashes, according to Israeli Police Foreign Press Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. At least 46 people were injured, including 23 police officers, Haaretz reports.
They shouted “not black, not white, we’re all human beings” and “a violent cop should be jailed.”
“Being black, I have to protest today. I never experienced police violence against me personally, but it is aimed at my community which I have to support,” 34-year-old protester Eddie Maconen told AFP.
The demonstration started next to the key city artery Kaplan Interchange, with protesters blocking major junctions and surrounding streets. They also went up to the train station, but were cracked down on by police.
Additional police units have been deployed in the area to prevent any further disturbances.
Brigade General Yoram Ohayon, deputy commander of the Tel Aviv police district, accused social activists and organizations of “inciting members of the community to keep protesting after the police has already reached understandings with them,” YNet reported.
The country’s premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, is set to meet the representatives of the Israeli Ethiopian community on Monday.
Police didn’t deploy officers of Ethiopian descent, fearing a conflict of interests that already led to clashes last week during a protest in Jerusalem, Haaretz reported.
More forces could be deployed if needed, security forces stressed.
This is the second such protest in a week: On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators blocked streets and the Jerusalem Light Rail, and marched on the prime minister’s home.
Thirteen protesters and three policemen were injured in the clashes then, Times of Israel reported.
The protests began last week after a clip emerged showing policemen shoving and punching a black soldier. Officers in the video were suspended for their duties.
Over 135,000 Ethiopian Jews are Israeli residents, with most of them having immigrated in two waves, in 1984 and 1991.
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