Tel Aviv Court Extends Remand of 15 Detained at Ethiopian Israeli Protest

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Ethiopian Israelis at the Tel Aviv protest, May 3, 2015.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Monday extended the remand of 15 protesters who were detained during the Ethiopian Israeli demonstration on Sunday, accused of attacking Israel Police. Three of the suspects' remand was extended for 48 hours, with 12 suspects' remand extended for 24 hours. Four other demonstrators were released on probation that included remaining outside of Tel Aviv. The Israel Police intends to issue indictments.

Dozens of Israel Police personnel were stationed outside of the courthouse during the remand hearing, for fear of further demonstrations, though only the suspects' relatives showed up at the courthouse, and proceedings went on uninterrupted. A police representative said during the hearing that the police forces exhibited restraint, and did not prevent protesters from demonstrating even when they blocked major roads. According to the representative, all arrests were made after 10:00 P.M. on Sunday, as the protesters began throwing stones and bottles at police officers.

Thousands participated in the protests on Sunday, demonstrating against police brutality toward Ethiopian Israelis. The protest began near the Azrieli mall in Tel Aviv, and blocked major roads, including the Ayalon freeway. The protest proceeded toward Rabin Square, where it turned violent. Some demonstrators threw stones at and assaulted police officers, while others attempted to break into nearby city hall, vandalize local stores and damage vehicles parked nearby. In response, police fired stun grenades and tear gas at the protesters, and used firehoses as well. During the clashes, 55 police officers and 12 protesters were injured and 43 arrests were made.

Police claimed that the protesters were joined by "agitators that fostered dangerous escalation." A senior Tel Aviv District police official said "we're very frustrated. We exhibited an unprecedented level of restraint. We let them block roads, walk through the streets, we negotiated with dozens of them, and in the end it escalated. Officers were injured by stones, there was danger to the public and property; we had no choice but to use force."

On Monday morning, Israel Police deployed extra personnel to Jerusalem in preparation for protests planned near the government offices, and warned against violence. In the end, however, only three people showed up. Mounted police as well as swat teams and Border Patrol officers were on the scene, and roads in the area, particularly those near the Prime Minister's Office, were closed to traffic.

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