Ethiopian Israelis Warn of New Protests

If demands for end of police brutality and government neglect not met, community will take back to the streets, protest leaders say.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Ethiopian Israeli protest leaders at a press conference in Tel Aviv, May 10, 2015.
Ethiopian Israeli protest leaders at a press conference in Tel Aviv, May 10, 2015.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

Leaders of the Ethiopian Jewish protest on Sunday denied rumors they are planning another mass demonstration, but said that if their demands for an end to what they see as police brutality and government neglect are not met, they will take to the streets again.

Gadi Yevarkan, one of the protest organizers, said at a news conference in Tel Aviv’s Beit Sokolov that he and his fellow activists are opposed to violence, which marked a demonstration by thousands in Rabin Square on Sunday of last week.

Activists also called for police to immediately close the cases against the demonstrators arrested during that protest. Some speakers also called for the cancellation of a protest being planned by policemen’s wives for next week, with one saying the purpose of the rally “is to heat things up.”

Protest leaders were also critical of police chief Yohanan Danino, saying he had been ignoring them and that they expect a report on police brutality against Ethiopian Israelis.

“We are gathered here after a hard week of struggle the likes of which the Israeli public hasn’t seen before,” said Inbar Bolgleh, one of the protest leaders. “We won’t give up. We’ve had our fill of empty promises.”

Protest leaders demanded that a steering committee be established in each government ministry with the aim of improving the quality of life for Ethiopian Jews in education, housing, welfare and the army, and that at least half of the members be from the Ethiopian community. Another demand was for oversight of the conduct of local authority heads, whom they said also bear responsibility for the neglect of the community’s needs.

Tomorrow, at the behest of former MK Pnina Tamano-Shata, an emergency conference will be held at the Knesset to discuss the protest and the situation of Ethiopian Israelis.

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