Last updated: 4 May, 2015

Israeli prime minister to meet Ethiopian community after clashes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet members of Israel's Ethiopian community Monday in a bid to ease tensions after clashes over allegations of police brutality and widespread discrimination.

The meeting was announced late on Sunday as thousands of Ethiopian Israeli demonstrators clashed with police at a rally in Tel Aviv — the second violent confrontation in four days.

Mounted police fired stun grenades and used water cannon and pepper spray to disperse the crowd, as some protesters threw stones, bottles and chairs.

Police said Monday that 43 demonstrators were arrested.

“During the afternoon, 19 detainees will be brought to court on suspicion of rioting, causing damage and attacking police officers during the Ethiopian protest last night,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.

During the confrontation, 55 police officers sustained light injuries, while another was moderately hurt, she said.

Twelve demonstrators were also wounded, she said. The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.

Jerusalem police were on alert after demonstrators pledged to hold another protest near Netanyahu’s office on Monday.

Samri said a “large number” of police were being deployed for the demonstration and several major roads in the city would be closed.

A first protest in Jerusalem on Thursday was triggered by the emergence of a video showing two policemen beating a uniformed Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin named Damas Pakada.

Ethiopian Israelis claim their community has long suffered from police brutality and widespread discrimination.

Netanyahu was expected to meet with Pakada on Monday along with other representatives of the community to discuss their grievances.

More than 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, having immigrated in two waves in 1984 and 1991.

Although there is a high rate of employment within the community, their average income is lower than that of other Israelis.