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Four Ethiopian-Israeli protesters indicted over riot


israel-ethiopian-protest-AP-640x480FOUR Ethiopian-Israeli men who participated in a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Sunday were indicted yesterday on charges that include assaulting police officers, rioting and resisting arrest.

Migbeh Lakau, 36, of Bat Yam, allegedly punched one police officer in the back, poked another officer in the eye with his fingers, and resisted arrest. He was charged with aggravated assault of police officers, and with rioting.

Sintiabo Zagieh, 21, of Ma’ale Adumim, allegedly threw stones at police officers and shoved and cursed an officer who was trying to arrest him. He was also charged with aggravated assault of police officers, interfering with a police officer carrying out his duties, rioting and resisting arrest.

Emanuel Ganpur, 24, of Hadera, and Avraham Barha, 22, of Lod, were charged with throwing stones at police officers, attempted aggravated assault of police officers and rioting.

The protest in Tel Aviv, which devolved into a riot and saw some 60 people injured, followed a similar demonstration in Jerusalem.

Members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community said they were protesting years of institutional racism and discrimination, as well as ongoing police brutality. The release of a video showing police beating an Ethiopian-born soldier, apparently unprovoked, sparked the protests.

The indictment of the four men stated that they had marched toward Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, even though they had no police permit to demonstrate, after blocking traffic on the Ayalon Highway for about three hours. Once they arrived at Rabin Square, they allegedly threw stones, glass bottles and iron bars at police officers and climbed onto the terrace of the municipality building, where police officers kept them from breaking into the building.

The indictment also stated that the protesters threw hot spices at the police officers’ faces, overturned a patrol car parked at the site and set trash bins ablaze. Several police officers suffered injuries, including head wounds, in the ensuing melee.

The Ethiopian community is planning additional demonstrations after the ones held in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Simultaneous demonstrations are planned all over the country starting at 7:30 on Saturday evening.

A demonstration planned to take place in Ashkelon today, from 3 to 9 p.m., will begin at the Lev Ashkelon Mall and proceed toward the police station, passing by the mayor’s office. “Our protest is at both the national and local levels, against the authorities who do not give us proper solutions for our problems,” Gavriel Tegbo, one of the organizers, told Haaretz.

Tegbo said that the protest, whose theme would be “No to violence, yes to dialogue,” was organized on Tuesday night. So far, about 300 people have said they will attend.

“We will protest the police brutality and in solidarity with all the members of the community, who do not receive fair treatment from the authorities,” he said. “We have been silent for 30 years, and now we are crying out. I call upon everyone to attend, not to remain indifferent.”
Another march is planned for Beersheba at 7 p.m. today.

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