Video Of Cops Beating Black IDF Soldier Leads To Chaos In Israel’s Tel Aviv

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Ivan Plis Reporter, Daily Caller News Foundation
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Israeli Jews of Ethiopian descent have spent days protesting unfair treatment by the government, leading to clashes with police that have injured dozens on both sides.

A peaceful rally Sunday in central Tel Aviv, which included thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis, devolved into violent confrontations as protesters tried to enter City Hall. It echoed a previous showdown between protesters and police on Thursday in Jerusalem.

Among the incidents sparking Israeli Ethiopians’ outcry was the emergence of a video on April 27, in which two policemen stopped and beat a black Israeli soldier while he was in uniform, apparently profiling him for his race without any further cause. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday with representatives of the Ethiopian community, including Damas Pakada, the soldier in the video. The officers involved in the beating have been suspended. (RELATED: Netanyahu Pulls Through In Final Election Count)

Following the announcement, protesters told Haaretz that they desired not just dismissal, but criminal punishment for Pakada’s assaulters. Besides Sunday’s rally, their other tactics included sit-ins that blocked traffic on major thoroughfares, with their hands held in the air as though bound by handcuffs.

Aware of their protests’ similarity to events in Baltimore, Maryland, organizers also told Haaretz that “we didn’t ‘do a Baltimore,’” and that they had no interest in using violent tactics to achieve their goals.

Ethiopian-Israelis’ first major settlement in Israel came during several waves of immigration during the 1980s and 1990s. They descend from a population of Ethiopians who preserved Jewish practices in eastern Africa, reestablishing contact with Jews in Israel and elsewhere after centuries of separation. Following years of dispute with the Israeli government, they were granted inclusion under the Israeli law that allows citizenship to any Jew worldwide in 1975.

In the ensuing decades, Ethiopian-Israelis have faced discrimination throughout public life. For years, the Red Star of David (Israel’s Red Cross affiliate), rejected all blood donations from Ethiopians regardless of test results for communicable disease. The Ministry of Health has also faced accusations that it deliberately gave new Ethiopian immigrant women the Depo-Provera birth control drug in attempts to reduce the Ethiopian-Israeli birthrate.

Their low education and economic status regularly puts them at the bottom of Israel’s social order, lower even than Israel’s Arab citizens. This pattern is reflected in public opinion polls, in one of which over half of Israeli respondents said they would not allow their daughters to marry an Israeli of Ethiopian descent. (RELATED: Netanyahu Frustrates Hopes For Solving Palestinian Question)

Today, Jews of Ethiopian descent constitute less than 2 percent of all Israelis.

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