Itongadol.- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday met with Damas Pakedeh, the Israeli Ethiopian soldier who was assaulted by police officers last week which kicked off a violent protest in Tel Aviv Sunday evening.
Meeting at the Prime Minister\’s Office in Jerusalem Tuesday, Netanyahu greeted Pakedeh, expressed his shock by the video that captured his assault and commended him for his hard work and leadership.
"Hello Damas, how are you? I heard you were an excellent student, that you do volunteering on the weekend … that you work very hard," Netanyahu said.
"I wanted to tell you that I was shocked by the video, that we don\’t accept it, that the police are dealing with it and we are working to change the situation," he added. "But I also heard you as well, that you did not want the violence to continue – this is real leadership."
Clashes engulfed Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv on Sunday night, as an anti-police brutality protest by Israeli Jews of Ethiopian descent spun out of control, with protesters throwing rocks and bottles at police, who fired stun grenades and charged the square repeatedly on horseback.
For hours the protest had been peaceful. The protesters – who numbered in the thousands and included a large contingent of non-Ethiopian Israelis – marched through central Tel Aviv and blocked both sides of the Ayalon freeway for over two hours during the afternoon rush hour.
In light of the situation, the premier was also set to meet as well with representatives of the all the relevant bodies Monday, including the police, welfare authorities, and representatives of the Ethiopian community, absorption, interior and public security ministries.
Last week, a video surfaced that showed Pakedeh being assaulted by officers that crescendoed into Sunday night\’s violent protest. In the video, Pakedeh can be seen walking a bike on a residential street the police had blocked off because of a suspicious package. The soldier tries to keep walking and is pushed back once, and then a second time before the officer knees him, punches him in the face and puts his hands around his neck momentarily. The soldier appears to throw a punch at the officer after he was struck.
The officer and volunteer then throw him to the ground in a vacant lot and continue to push him as he gets to his feet and refuses to stay down. At the end of the video, after more officers come and break up the fracas, the soldier can be seen picking up a rock and rearing back as if to throw it at the officer, who appears to have his hand on his sidearm. He drops the rock and the video cuts out.