JERUSALEM (JTA) – Ethiopian-Israeli activists called for a police officer caught on camera beating an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier to be put on trial.
At a news conference Sunday in Tel Aviv, the activists also demanded that charges be dropped against protesters arrested in the city last week during a demonstration spurred by the attack that turned violent, the Jerusalem Post reported. They also called for improved conditions for Ethiopian-Israelis in the areas of education, housing and welfare.
“Decision-makers abandoned Ethiopian-Israelis as though they were foreign implants and not a basic part of the foundation of Israeli society,” activist Inbar Bugale said. “They have ignored the difficult reality that there is an entire young generation that feels it is not part of the Israeli society.”
Also Sunday, the Jewish Agency for Israel said it would increase immigrants’ eligibility to reside in its absorption centers from two years to three. Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency, said the decision would be implemented immediately and that the Jewish Agency would assume the costs of the third year – the Israeli government funds the first two.
Sharansky called upon the Israeli government to accelerate the development of permanent housing solutions for the Ethiopian immigrants.
“Integrating Ethiopian immigrants into Israeli society is a national mission of tremendous importance, and that begins with the move from immigrant absorption centers to permanent housing,” he said.
Some 4,755 Ethiopian immigrants currently reside in Jewish Agency immigrant absorption centers, including 853 residing there beyond their period of eligibility, according to the Jewish Agency.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry reportedly has issued a statement expressing concern over Israel’s treatment of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. The statement extensively quotes statements by Israeli officials admitting that the county has erred in its integration of Ethiopian-Israelis, Ynet reported.
Ethiopian government officials reportedly summoned Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Belaynesh Zevadia, to discuss the issue and the recent violent protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.