Ethiopian-Israelis protest police shooting of teen

An Ethiopian-Israeli teen was shot to death by an off-duty policeman on Sunday night, sparking intense protests in the Haifa area on Monday.

By World Israel News Staff and TPS

An incident in which an Ethiopian-Israeli teen was fatally shot by a police officer on Sunday night in the northern city of Kiryat Haim is under investigation after his family claims he was wrongfully fired upon.

The officer who fired the shots was not on duty and says he was acting in self-defense.

The officer was apparently on an outing with his family on Sunday night and became involved in a dispute with a group of youth. A scuffle ensued, during which the officer drew his weapon and shot dead one of the young men, a 19-year-old Israeli of Ethiopian descent named Solomon Tekah.

On Monday, protesters from the Ethiopian-Israeli community and their supporters gathered along major roads in the Haifa area to express anger over the fatal shooting. Eventually, the protests spread to Beer Sheba, Netivot and Sderot, reported Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that Tekah’s death would be immediately investigated. While the officer was detained initially, he was soon after released to house arrest.

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An initial investigation by the police found that the off-duty officer was in a playground area with his wife and his three children when he saw a fight nearby. He approached the group that was involved in the fight, but after he identified himself as a policeman, the youth allegedly started throwing rocks at him.

The policeman said that he felt he was in a life-threatening situation and fired his weapon.

Taka was taken to the nearby Rambam hospital where he died shortly after of his injuries.

The policeman was injured in the upper part of the body and taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

“The investigation into the incident is continuing by the ministry of justice, the department that investigates police conduct,” the police announced.

The shooting of an Ethiopian-Israeli has again stirred public controversy related to claims of excessive force and racism on the part of law enforcement.

Taka’s family described him as a peaceful person who was brutally shot dead because of the officer’s prejudice.

Hundreds of members of the Ethiopian community, including Taka’s parents, demonstrated in front of the Kiryat Haim police station on Monday and demanded justice.

Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan called for a probe into the incident.

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Relations between the police and the Ethiopian-Israeli community have been tense in recent years following several incidents in which community members charged the police with racist motives.