Large police forces braced Monday for a protest against police brutality toward Israeli Jews of Ethiopian descent in front of the government headquarters in Jerusalem. The police released a statement saying that it will allow for a rally that adheres to the "restrictions of law and order," calling on leaders of the community to show restraint.
Should the rally threaten public safety, the police "will be forced to disperse the demonstration using means" of crowd control, the statement said. The demonstration was expected to begin at 11 A.M.
Netanyahu on Monday is excepted to host a meeting of Ethiopian-Israeli community leaders as well as Demas Fekadeh, the soldier who was filmed being beaten by police officers. The meeting will also include representatives from the Public Security Ministry, the Welfare Ministry, the Absorption Ministry, the Interior Ministry, municipal offices and police command.
According to the police statement, the following streets will be closed to traffic in accordance with the protest’s movements: Rabin Boulevard, Shazar Boulevard, Ha’Nasi Ha’Shishi, Ben Tzvi Boulevard and Ruppin Street. The public is urged to use alternative transport routes and refrain from attempting to reach the area while the protest is ongoing.
Nineteen protesters who were arrested on Sunday night at a rally in Tel Aviv will be brought before a judge for a remand hearing on Monday afternoon. They are suspected of rioting and assaulting police officers. Sunday’s rally, as with Monday’s, was in protest of what Israelis of Ethiopian descent say is police brutality and racism against the community.
According to the police, 43 people were arrested at the demonstration. Fifty-five police officers were lightly wounded, and one sustained moderate injuries. Paramedics treated 12 protesters wounded in the clashes.
The protesters damaged a police scooter, overturned one police car and broke the windows in another. Store windows on Ibn Gabirol Street were smashed as well, and trash cans were set on fire nearby.
Several protesters attempted to break into City Hall, located in Rabin Square, where the rally took place. Some cases of attempted looting were also reported. Police fired stun grenades and tear gas while some protesters hurled rocks, planks and plastic and glass bottles at police.
The protests by Israel's Ethiopian community revealed a wound in Israeli society. We are brothers & we mustn't slide to a place we'll regret
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) May 4, 2015
The police said they were forced to deal with "inciting forces" that they say "infiltrated the protesters’ ranks… and created a dangerous escalation." The police said they "expect the protest leaders to keep demonstrations non-violent before protesters are injured."
The protest began near the Kaplan Interchange, where protesters blocked major arteries and junctions, including the Ayalon South freeway and Hashalom Interchange, as well as surrounding streets. Protesters also marched along Derech Begin towards the train station but were blocked by police. The police at first exhibited restraint and allowed the demonstrators to express themselves, but decided to break it up once the protest moved to Rabin Square and started to become violent.