'Mother, Don't Let Me Be the Next Victim': Protests Resume Over Police Shooting of Ethiopian Israeli

Hundreds march through Tel Aviv, as demonstrations renew after mourning period

Protesters in Tel Aviv on July 8, 2019.
Moti Milrod

Protests resumed Monday over the police shooting of 18-year-old Ethiopian Israeli Solomon Teka, after thousands took to the streets last week demanding an end to institutionalized violence and discriminatory policing against the Ethiopian Israeli community.

About 1,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv, mostly Ethiopian Israeli women holding signs saying "Mother, don't let me be the next victim" and chanting slogans such as "Racism kills." Dozens of young people demonstrated in Netanya, with eight of them being arrested and brought in for questioning. 

Police said officers will be posted along traffic routes and that they will not allow "violent riots and unlawful attempts to hurt policemen, civilians and property."

>> Read more: Ethiopian Israelis protesting police shooting of teen are saying what Israel needs to hear: This is a racist country | Analysis ■ Arrested, imprisoned, shot: Police violence is pushing Ethiopian Israelis to fear, fury and despair | Opinion

Over a thousand Israelis protested in several cities over three days after an off-duty police officer had shot and killed Teka during an altercation between youths in the Kiryat Haim suburb of Haifa, reigniting anger over law enforcement's treatment of the minority community.

Demonstrators chanted "A violent policeman needs to be [imprisoned]," and "Black, white, we're all human," and marched on police stations.

Protesters in Tel Aviv on July 8, 2019.
Moti Milrod

Throughout the country, protesters blocked major intersections, burning tires and clashing with security forces, leaving over 100 police officers injured. Police used riot dispersal methods, including tear gas and stun grenades, to clear out the protests, and made nearly 200 arrests.

Emergency services said 50 people had received medical treatment, including protesters, police and bystanders stuck in traffic. All injuries were minor. Emergency services added that four paramedics were attacked by demonstrators. Teka's family had called for a halt to protests during the traditional Jewish seven-day mourning period.

Teka was shot in a park, where the police officer, 33, was visiting with his wife and children. According to the policeman, identified only as B., he had separated Teka and his friends, who had attacked a 13-year-old. The officer said that he then returned to his family – but Teka and his friends began to throw rocks at them. B. said he then chased after them, fearing for his life and the safety of his family, and fired at the ground. According to B., the bullet then ricocheted and hit Teka in the chest. Forensic evidence is as of yet inconclusive.

A youth counselor who was working close to the scene of the shooting told police that as he witnessed it, there was no danger to the officer’s life that could have prompted him to open fire.

“He lined up to shoot and fired a single bullet when Solomon was at least 30 meters away from him. From where I was standing [I saw] he wasn’t shooting toward his legs but was really aiming straight at him."

According to the counselor, after Teka was shot, "one of the other counselors tried to resuscitate him and I saw the officer hovering over the body and walking among us, talking on the phone as if nothing had happened. The police officer wasn't wounded when he fired, and if he was, he managed to cover it up pretty well. He wasn't in a life-threatening condition and his children were not around, the street was empty."

An official involved in the investigation told Haaretz that there are “significant gaps” in the policeman's story, and investigators are waiting for a report from the National Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir in Tel Aviv.