Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with Damas Pakada, the Ethiopian Israeli soldier who was seen on a close circuit video camera being beaten by police.
“I was shocked and we cannot accept this,” the PM is reported to have told the soldier who said that his meeting Netanyahu was encouraging and that he was left with a good feeling.
“I feel sad on one hand because Sunday’s protest deteriorated into violence against the police and against civilians. I do support the demonstration, I am with them. I hope it will be understood that the Ethiopian community is part of Israeli society,” he stressed.
Sunday’s demonstration in Tel Aviv was one of the most violent seen in the country’s commercial capital for years.
Police fired tear gas and stun grenades as demonstrators threw bottles and bricks. At least 46 police and seven protesters were hurt. There were dozens of arrests, officials said.
Two officers have been suspended on suspicion of using excessive force as politicians try to defuse tensions. Israeli president Reuven Rivlin condemned Sunday’s rioting but acknowledged the protesters had legitimate grievances.
The unrest in Tel Aviv followed demonstrations in Jerusalem last Thursday.
Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel in top secret operations during the 1980s and 1990s. There have been longstanding complaints from many of discrimination, racism and poverty.