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Ethiopian Jews take to the streets again in Israel to protest discrimination

Footage showing two police officers beating a uniformed Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin sparked violent clashes two weeks ago
Ethiopian Israelis say they face daily discrimination by police and government agencies (AFP)

Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews demonstrated against racism and discrimination in Tel Aviv on Monday, local newspapers reported.

The group gathered on Rothschild Boulevard in the city centre and moved towards the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and eventually to Rabin Square.

Police forces stopped the protesters from marching towards a highway to avoid roads getting blocked.

“We wish to show that things haven’t dissipated – we’re continuing to protest,” one of the demonstration's leaders, Inbar Bugale, told Haaretz on Monday, referring to a recent protest held several weeks ago.

“Nothing has been done for 30 years and we want to show the prime minister that this time we are not giving in," she added.

"Even if he commits to doing something, we won’t be quiet until we see results.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for unity against racism after talks with the Ethiopian community on 4 May in attempts to ease tensions after violent clashes broke out in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The clashes had been sparked by footage showing two police officers beating a uniformed Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin.

Protesters felt positive after the meeting saying that a new phase may be ahead of Ethiopian Jews.

"We are looking for a real solution to something that has been happening for many years, " said Maharta Baroukh, a member of the Israeli-Ethiopian community and the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality told MEE at the time.

"If Netanyahu offers a real solution and practical steps regarding discrimination against the Ethiopian community we will cooperate but if it’s just to calm the Ethiopians we will not bow to it," Baroukh had added.

In the demonstrations two weeks ago, police said 46 officers as well as at least seven demonstrators were wounded in the clashes, and that 43 demonstrators had been arrested.

Demonstrators threatened to return to the streets if Israeli authorities do not meet their demands and drop charges against protesters arrested.

The activists also called on authorities to improve housing and education conditions for Ethiopian Israelis, threatening to take to the streets if these demands were not met.

The protesters this time were keen to maintain peaceful demonstrations and avoid clashes with the police. 

“Everything is being done after obtaining a licence. We’re not against the police. We’re against the laws and directives they are given, and we’re opposed to them taking the law into their own hands,” Bugale told Haaretz.