Man Arrested for Online Threat to Murder Cop Who Killed Ethiopian Israeli

Gashau Abaja allegedly wrote on the Telegram messaging app that if he could get his hands on the policeman who shot Yehuda Biadga, a mentally ill Ethiopian Israeli, he would kill him

Ethiopian Israelis demonstrate on Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, January, 2019.
Moti Milrod

Police plan to charge a man of Ethiopian origin for threatening to kill a policeman said to be responsible for the shooting death two weeks ago of Yehuda Biadga, a mentally ill Ethiopian Israeli.

Gashau Abaja, 27, from Beit Shemesh, allegedly participated in a closed discussion on the Telegram messaging app, during which a picture was posted of a policeman who was described as being responsible for Biadga’s death in Bat Yam. Abaja wrote that if he could get his hands on the policeman, he would kill him. His remarks, which were later quoted on Facebook, reached the police, who arrested him on Friday. A police memo states that his arrest required the approval of senior officers from the Tel Aviv District Police, because of what was called a “sensitive period.”

Abaja’s lawyers argued that he had no intention of harming the policeman, whom he doesn’t even know and that his remarks stemmed from “momentary hotheadedness.” On Friday his detention was extended until Sunday, and the police submitted a declaration of intent to charge him for the threats. On Sunday Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Ala Masarwa denied the police request to extend Abaja’s detention further and released him to house arrest, although he stated that, “The remarks attributed to the suspect are harsh and constitute a crime, whether we are talking about threats or whether we’re talking about incitement or a call to violence.”

Police, however, appealed Abaja’s release.

“The suspect exploited the tense atmosphere and the harsh feelings on all sides and incited and behaved aggressively in the virtual arena,” the police request said, adding that what he had allegedly done was worse than if he had threatened the policeman to his face. “With his act, the suspect incited and terrorized and intimidated a public figure in public, before thousands and tens of thousands of readers. With his action the respondent could easily cause a physical attack on the target of his threat,” the request said.