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Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

  • VOA News

A protester, who is an Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, is carried by policemen during a demonstration against what they say is police racism and brutality, after the emergence last week of a video clip that showed policemen shoving and punching a black soldier in a protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv May 3, 2015.

A protester, who is an Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, is carried by policemen during a demonstration against what they say is police racism and brutality, after the emergence last week of a video clip that showed policemen shoving and punching a black soldier in a protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv May 3, 2015.

Several thousand people, mostly from Israel's Jewish Ethiopian minority, protested in Tel Aviv against racism and police brutality on Sunday, shutting down a major highway and scuffling with police on horseback into the night.

The demonstration came days after a rally in Jerusalem Thursday turned violent, following the release of a video showing police beating a uniformed Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent.

Protesters clashed with police Sunday evening, throwing rocks and bottles at officers in riot gear. Police deployed officers on horseback and used stun grenades to try to control the crowds in central Tel Aviv.

Israeli media reported that several arrests were made and that there were injuries among both police and protesters.

As they marched in central Tel Aviv, some held their arms in the air, wrists crossed as if handcuffed.

Demonstrators had blocked the Ayalon expressway for a long time during rush-hour, causing huge traffic jams on one of the country's central highways before police forcefully evacuated them.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called a meeting Monday with representatives of Israel's Ethiopian community, who make up about 2 percent of the country's Jewish population.

Netanyahu said he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen.

Police officials have pledged to crack down on those members of the force who have used violence after the video footage went public.

More than 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, having immigrated between 1984 and 1991, but their absorption into Israeli society has been rocky.

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