Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Tuesday that the police should not be forgiving when it comes to police violence, and that violent police should not remain in the organization.
“I repeatedly discover that police who have acted illegally continue to serve in the organization in a different position,” he said. “We need to establish a clear norm on the matter: zero forgiveness for unnecessary violence on the part of the police. That also goes for manifestations of racism. A violent policeman who is unable to show restraint shouldn’t remain in the ranks of the police force.”
Erdan’s comments related to the death of Solomon Teka, an Ethiopian Israeli shot by an off-duty policeman in the Haifa neighborhood of Kiryat Haim last week, and to subsequent demonstrations by Ethiopian Israelis. The minister was speaking at a ceremony marking the installation of a new commander for the northern district of the police.
“Together with the police commissioner, I have met dozens of Ethiopian Israelis who spoke about encounters with police. They didn’t invent the stories and didn’t coordinate them with one another,” Erdan said. “Racism is a problem for all of Israeli society, and here too we as a ministry and a police force must lead. I have announced that, together with the commissioner, we will soon form a special unit tasked with fighting manifestations of racism.”
Speaking at the ceremony, Acting Police Commissioner Moti Cohen said Ethiopian Israelis have exploited the willingness of the police to let them demonstrate. “A portion of the community has resorted to severe violence against civilians and police, with serious disturbances of the peace. Dozens have already been arrested and we will bring them to justice.”
With regard to the internal police investigation of the shooting of Solomon Teka in Haifa, Cohen said: “Israel’s police are often required to act under extreme circumstances and deal with complex situations, exercising swift judgment and making weighty decisions. We need to remember that every citizen and every policeman is considered innocent until proven otherwise – even in this regrettable and tragic incident. The Israel Police belong to all of Israeli society. We will do everything possible to form closer ties with the Ethiopian community, and there is much more to be done in this regard.”