At least 47 Israeli police officers were hurt and 60 Ethiopian Israelis were arrested in violence that tore up neighborhoods throughout the country on Tuesday as “protesters” rioted over the killing of a 19-year-old Ethiopian Israeli this past Sunday.
The country has been brought to a near standstill at the junctions of major arteries, including Route 4, the Trans-Israel Highway, the Coastal Road and the Ayalon Highway, leading to massive traffic jams.
Solomon Tekah was shot and killed by an off-duty Israel Police officer who has since been arrested on suspicion of unlawful killing and is currently detained on house arrest.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has said he is waiting for investigators to present their findings, with “complete transparency to the public.”
With all that having been said, however, there are right ways and wrong ways to deal with anger, tragedy and even injustice. Violence and destruction of property is not on the list of acceptable methods.
“We all mourn the tragic death of young Solomon Tekah,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Tuesday night. “We embrace the family. We embrace the Ethiopian community. It is dear to me; it is dear to us. These are not mere words.
“I know that there are problems that need to be solved. We have worked hard and need to work more to solve them. But I ask of you one thing,” he told the Ethiopian Israeli rioters. “Stop blocking the roads. We are a nation of law; we will not tolerate the blocking of roads. I ask you, let us solve the problems together while upholding the law.”
Tekah was shot during an alleged altercation that took place in the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Haim. Although the officer said Tekah was one of three teens throwing rocks at him and endangering his life as he tried to break up a street fight, an eyewitness to the shooting reportedly told the Israel Police Internal Investigative Division (IPIID) that he appeared to be in no danger when he opened fire.
However, there is also another side to this story: the officer had his wife and three small children with him at the time of the incident, and was reportedly taking them to a playground when he noticed the teens beating up a younger boy. After he intervened, they allegedly threw rocks at him, hitting him in the head and back, according to a source quoted by Haaretz. The source said the officer claims he then opened fire, aiming at the ground. IPIID is checking to see if perhaps the bullet ricocheted off the ground and hit Tekah.