Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir/TPS
Ethiopian Israelis, holding their family members' pictures, together with Knesset members and activists, in a protest in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem, in support for Ethiopian Aliyah. Mar 12, 2018.

Protests by the Israeli Ethiopian community across Israel on Wednesday night were smaller and less violent, while the majority of those who took to the streets were members of the extreme-left wing organizations.

After the violent riots in several cities across Israel on Tuesday night, which including the torching of cars and the blocking of major routes, police deployed mass forces at potential flash-points and were quick to respond to any flare-up.


Dozens of protesters blocked the entrance to the Yavneh police station and threw rocks at the policemen. They were dispersed by the forces, who arrested six suspects.

About 20 demonstrators threw stones at police officers on Moshe Dayan Street near the Rishon Lezion interchange. The forces dispersed them and arrested two suspects in whose possession they found Molotov cocktails.

In Tel Aviv, five demonstrators who attempted to start a riot and tried to block traffic at the Azrieli junction were arrested. They were all members of the left-wing organizations and not members of the Ethiopian community.

The rioters were protesting the death of Solomon Tekah, an 18-year-old Israeli of Ethiopian descent who was shot dead by a police officer during a scuffle on Sunday night. The Ethiopian community claims he was wrongfully shot.

The police officer’s shooting of an Israeli-Ethiopian again stirred public controversy with claims of the officer’s excessive use of force and racism.

Tekah’s family on Wednesday evening asked to halt the protests in his name.

The police noted that the majority of those arrested on Wednesday were anarchists and extreme-left wing activists.

It has become apparent that several organizations have high jacked the protests to promote their own agendas and generate a general sense of disarray. Some reported encountering several Arabs among the rioters.

The leftwing Standing Together organization (not to be confused with the legally registered Israeli NGO Standing Together that provides food and drink to IDF soldiers) had a prominent presence at the events.

The Leftwing Standing Together is funded by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, which is an arm of the Die Linke party. The organization has previously been behind protests against the deportation of illegal infiltrators from Israel to a third country last winter.

Bezalel Yaakov, an Israeli-Ethiopian activist, wrote on his Facebook page a sharp post attacking left-wing leaders who came to the demonstrations.

“Unfortunately, I see the human scum of the Breaking the Silence and the New Israel Fund inciting the young people of my community against the State of Israel,” he charged.

He warned his followers that the “progressives” want to “see blood in the streets more than they want to help our community. They push themselves into any legitimate struggle and turn it into a struggle against the state,” he said,

“Our struggle is against policy and not against the state,” he underscored. “Yes, to the protest, not to violence, I doubt that they would have arrived if there were no elections soon,” Yaakov concluded.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening convened the ministerial committee on advancing the integration into Israeli society of Israeli citizens of Ethiopian origin together with leaders of the community.

“The death of Salomon Tekah was a major tragedy. Our heart is with the family and lessons will also be learned. But one thing is clear: We cannot tolerate the violence that we saw yesterday. We cannot see the violent blocking of roads. We cannot see firebombs, and attacks on police officers, citizens and private property. This is inconceivable and the police are deployed accordingly to prevent this,” he stated.

To the community representatives, he said that “we have worked together and we have achieved important things for the Ethiopian community in the country and we still have work to do. But the first thing that I ask and expect is that you will use your influence in order to help stop this violence. It must stop immediately. We have other things to discuss but this is the first thing and I hope that we will succeed.”


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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.