Thousands of Israelis protested Tuesday against alleged police brutality toward Ethiopian Israelis across the country after police shot dead an Ethiopian Israeli teen.
Demonstrators blocked highways around the country, including a major thoroughfare through central Tel Aviv and the main highway into Jerusalem, snarling traffic late into the night. Protesters burned tires and held signs calling for justice. In Tel Aviv, a protester set a car on fire and demonstrators clashed with police.
A total of 83 people were treated for injuries caused during riots across Israel as members of the Ethiopian community protest the shooting death of an Ethiopian teenager earlier this week.
According to a spokesman for the MDA emergency response organization, 83 people were treated during the riots Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
The injured included 47 police officers who required medical attention, 26 injured rioters, nine passersby, and one firefighter.
Of the 83 people who were treated, five were evacuated to hospitals in moderate condition, while the remaining 78 people were lightly injured.
MDA reported that its first responders also treated a number of people who were trapped in traffic due to the road blocking protestes.
Six MDA ambulances were damaged by stone-throwing rioters, as were four MDA motorcycles and a mobile intensive care unit.
Multiple police vehicles were damaged, including some which were flipped over, and several which were set on fire.
A number of private vehicles were also damaged by the rioters.
“From the afternoon through the night there was a clear rise in the number of calls for help to MDA’s 101 emergency line,” said MDA in a statement.
“In the field, dozens of extra ambulances and some 50 extra emergency MDA motorcycle units were deployed.”
The riots first started Monday, following the death of 19-year-old Solomon Tekah in Haifa Sunday night.
Tekah, a member of the Ethiopian community in Israel, was fatally wounded Sunday night when an off-duty police officer spotted a group of young men fighting in the Kiryat Haim neighborhood of Haifa.
According to the officer who opened fire, when he tried to break up the fight, he was attacked by three of the young men, who allegedly hurled stones at him. Fearing for his life, the officer said, he opened fire at the ground to scare off his attackers.
One of the bullets ricocheted, he claimed, hitting and mortally wounding Tekah.
On Tuesday, hundreds gathered in the Tel Regev cemetery in Haifa for Tekah’s funeral.
Relatives of Tekah claimed he was murdered by police.
“It’s not ‘killing’, it’s murder,” said Tekah’s cousin, Amir.
“What was he killed by? A work accident? Being hit by a car? When you take the kids out to the playground, do you go out with a gun? [The officer] saw a black man walking. And after the cop in Bat Yam was cleared of charges, what does an officer care about killing him?” Amir continued, referencing the death of Yehuda Biadga.
Biadga, a mentally-ill 24-year-old resident of Bat Yam and member of the Ethiopian community, was shot and killed this January when he was spotted brandishing a knife.