Ethiopians in Israel protest police killing of teenager

A new wave of unrest is expected as the 19-year-old is set to be laid to rest

Israelis of Ethiopian origin chant slogans and carry signs as they block a highway in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on January 30, 2019, during a protest against police violence. AFP
Israelis of Ethiopian origin chant slogans and carry signs as they block a highway in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on January 30, 2019, during a protest against police violence. AFP

Israel's Ethiopian community is to conduct a second day of protests over the killing of an Ethiopian teenager by an off-duty police officer after the murder drew charges of racism.

Late on Monday, Ethiopians blocked highways around the country and clashed with police following the killing of 19-year-old Solomon Teka on Sunday.

Teka was shot in Kiryat Haim, a town near the northern port city of Haifa.

His death sparked outrage among members of the community, who say their young people live in constant fear of police harassment because they are black.

Israel's Ethiopian Jewish community numbers around 140,000 people, including more than 50,000 born in the country.

Most of them are descendants of communities cut off from the Jewish world for centuries, and were belatedly recognised as Jews by Israeli religious authorities.

Israel took in tens of thousands of them in the 1980s and 1990s.

The community has consistently alleged institutionalised racism in recent years.

Thousands took to the streets of Tel Aviv in January after a young community member was shot dead by a police officer when he allegedly rushed at him while holding a knife.

In Sunday's shooting, police initially said the officer saw a fight between "a number of youths" nearby and tried to break it up.

After the officer identified himself, the youths began throwing stones at him and he opened fire at Teka after "feeling that his life was in danger", a police statement said.

But the other young men and a passerby said the policeman was not attacked, Israeli media reported.

Mr Rosenfeld said the officer was placed under house arrest and a probe had been launched by the justice ministry department tasked with investigating police conduct.

Interviewed on Israeli public radio Tuesday, the dead youth's cousin, Amir Teka, bridled when asked how he felt about the protests sparked by the "killing".

"It's not 'killing', it's murder," he said.

"It cannot be that a person is next to his home and gets murdered and they say 'killed'. What was it? A work accident? Was he hit by a car?"

Published: July 2, 2019 04:54 PM

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