Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) addressed on Monday ongoing protests by Israel's Ethiopian community, as he formally opened the Knesset's summer session.
Specifically referencing the demonstration Sunday night in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Edelstein called the events "a sad chapter in the history of Israeli society."
Protests against racial discrimination, specifically, the beating of Damas Pakada, an Ethiopian soldier brutally assaulted by a police officer in Holon last Sunday, began initially in Jerusalem on Thursday and continued in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon, thousands of protestors blocked traffic on the Ayalon Highway before marching to Rabin Square. There, the demonstration turned violent as 55 police officers and 12 civilians were wounded.
"The heart aches when we see the struggle of our brother from Ethiopia," Edelstein continued, "which began as a legitimate protest, and developed, unfortunately, into a violent event. I call on all sides to restore calm."
According to Edelstein, the protestors' claims of police brutality and racial discrimination must be examined thoroughly.
"It is a job well done by the government and the Israel Police who have begun taking steps in this direction," Edelstein lauded before turning his attention to the protestors themselves.
"We must ensure freedom of speech with a broad hand; however, once it becomes incitement, violence, and anarchism – we must not only not allow this to happen, but treat it severely."
The Speaker then called on all citizens of Israel not to be dragged into a civil war, in spite of continuing protests in Jerusalem later on Monday.
"We must take special care not to reach a civil, although I fear we are already on the brink," Edelstein warned. "The State of Israel is an impressive example of immigrant absorption. Let's keep that safe."