Last updated: 3 June, 2015

Police and Ethiopian Jews scuffle in Tel Aviv protest

Israeli Ethiopian Jews scuffled with police in Tel Aviv on Wednesday during an unauthorised protest but there were no serious incidents despite police warnings that violence was planned.

An AFP journalist at the scene, a busy city-centre junction, said around 200 protesters against alleged institutionalised racism took part alongside a heavy police presence and some tried to block roads but were pushed back.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that five people were arrested for defying police instructions, but nobody was injured on either side.

Ethiopian Jews in Israel have staged several rallies against alleged police brutality and racism in recent weeks, some of which have erupted into violence.

At a May 3 rally in Tel Aviv protesters threw stones, bottles and chairs, injuring 55 police officers.

Police used stun grenades, water cannon and pepper spray to disperse several thousand Ethiopian Israelis. Twelve protestors were hurt and 43 arrested.

The following day President Reuven Rivlin admitted Israel had made mistakes in its treatment of the Ethiopian Jewish community, calling their suffering “an open wound”.

Ahead of Wednesday’s demonstration police said they had received tipoffs that activists were again planning violence.

“Police intelligence has revealed the intention of ‘militants’ on the side of the protesters from the Ethiopian community inciting violence against police, civilians and property,” a police statement said.

Israel has some 135,500 Jewish Israelis of Ethiopian descent, including more than 50,000 born inside the country.

The community has been at the centre of storms over alleged institutionalised racism in recent years.