The protests came after video footage was released earlier this week showing a seemingly unprovoked attack by police against an Ethiopian IDF soldier in Holon. The police officer filmed beating the soldier was subsequently suspended.
“I staunchly condemn the beating of the Ethiopian soldier and those responsible will be brought to justice,” Netanyahu said. “However, it is forbidden for anyone to take the law into his own hands,” he added.
“The olim from Ethiopia and their family members are dear to us, and Israel is making a great effort to ease their transition into society. We will continue to do so in the next government as well,” Netanyahu vowed.
The anti-racist protest which began peacefully earlier on Thursday turned violent in the evening when the protesters began to throw stones and glass bottles at police, the police reported. Two police officers were injured by stones. They were trying to disperse the protest using tear gas.
The Jerusalem municipality said it would not allow the protesters to continue to disturb the peace.
Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat came to speak to the protesters on Thursday evening to try to defuse tensions. During the protest earlier on Thursday President Reuven Rivlin met with a group of eighty Ethiopian students at his residence where he addressed the allegations of police violence.
“We cannot sit back in the face of anger and shouting – incidents such as these must serve as a warning sign, and an opportunity to conduct some genuine and thorough introspection on the issue of the relationship between the law enforcement services and the different communities which make up Israeli society,” Rivlin said.
“The shock that we all felt when we saw those pictures – which I am pleased to say immediately led the Israeli Police to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident and its awful outcome – is still deeply felt,” Rivlin added.
The meeting with the president was part of a seminar on education.