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DECEMBER 2020

Ethiopian Israelis Riot In Tel Aviv And Other Cities After Off-Duty Police Officer Shoots And Kills Teen

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Ethiopian Israelis Riot In Tel Aviv And Other Cities After Off-Duty Police Officer Shoots And Kills Teen

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On July 2nd and 3rd Ethiopian-Israelis rioted in Israel and primarily in Tel Aviv, after an off-duty police officer shot and killed a 19-year-old male.

According to the official version provided by the authorities, police units arrived at the scene, according to police, and discovered that the incident occurred when the off-duty officer, who was in the playground area with his wife and three children, saw a fight nearby. He approached the group that was involved in the fight, and after making clear to the group that he was a policeman, they started throwing stones at him.

The officer himself claimed that he felt he was in a life-threatening situation and fired for reasons that police said are “still being looked into.”

The off-duty officer allegedly shot towards the ground, because he “was worried about collateral damage to surrounding buildings and people in Kiyat Haim.” The bullet ricocheted and struck the 19-year-old Solomon Tekah.

Tekah was taken to nearby Rambam Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The policeman was injured in the upper part of his body and also taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

Immediately after that, police called for “restraint, responsibility and to avoid increasing tensions.”

“I call upon the leadership of the Ethiopian community to do everything in their power to restrain the extra tensions and feelings,in order to continue to focus on the important process of integrating between the community and the police,” acting police commissioner Moti Cohen said.

“The Israel Police is sympathetic to the Tekah family for the tragic loss of life,” said Cohen in a statement. “This is an event whose results are difficult, and therefore a thorough investigation is required to take place.”

Similarly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “our cohesion in moments… of trials and tribulations is ultimately the key to our power.” He expressed regret over the loss of Tekah and said that he spoke with the acting commissioner, who “promised that we would make a great effort to get to the truth as soon as possible.”

“The death of Solomon Tekah is a great tragedy,” the prime minister said. ”Our hearts are with the family and lessons will be learned, but one thing is clear: we cannot tolerate the violence we saw yesterday, we cannot see the blocking of roads, Molotov cocktails, attacks on police and citizens and private property. This is something that cannot be tolerated, and the police are preparing accordingly to prevent it.”

The protests erupted, not only caused by the death, but rather by Ethiopian Israelis being treated as “Second-class citizens.”

Demonstrators shut down 12 major junctions across the country, including in the large city of Tel Aviv, leading to huge traffic jams.

“End the killing, end the racism,” some chanted.

According to police, more than 110 officers were wounded in the clashes, including from stones and bottles hurled at them, and 136 protesters were arrested for rioting.

Tekah’s father, Workah Tekah, supports the protesters but has called for them to avoid violence. Still, he says he wants what happened to his son to never happen again.

“We respect the laws and customs. Why are we not respected? We have to live together. Enough! Let us be at peace. I want to be the last parent to bury their child,” he said during a eulogy for his son.

Similar riots happened in 2015 when Ethiopian Israelis pushed back against police violence after a video emerged of two Israeli police officers beating up an Ethiopian Israeli soldier.

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