Police officer was caught on tape beating soldier in apparent unprovoked attack • Police chief says dismissal will have no bearing on criminal case currently underway against the offending officer • Anti-racism protests to resume Monday, say activists.
Itzik Saban and Yael Branovsky
Israel Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino
Photo credit: Dudi Vaaknin
Israel Police Commissioner Insp. Gen. Yohanan Danino announced Wednesday that a police officer recently filmed beating Ethiopian-Israeli soldier Damas Pakada will be dismissed.
Pakada’s beating, which appeared on the tape to be unprovoked, sparked a mass anti-racism demonstration in Tel Aviv earlier this month, ending in violent clashed between protesters and police and leaving 65 people injured.
Danino recounted that at the disciplinary hearing two days ago, the offending officer “made a lot of arguments. But after considering all the legal aspects, I made the decision to dismiss him from the police force.”
“It is important to clarify that his dismissal has no bearing on the criminal investigation currently being conducted against him by the Police Internal Investigations Department,” Danino said.
Speaking to students at the Netanya Academic College, Danino remarked on the recent protests staged by the Ethiopian-Israeli community, saying, “This [discrimination against Israelis of Ethiopian descent] has been made into a police problem, but it is actually a social problem. These things have nothing to do with police procedure. There is a problem with immigration absorption and education.”
The police chief also addressed claims that police officers used excessive force against protesters during the demonstration in Tel Aviv. “At what point did we begin using stun grenades and mounted police officers? When the violence escalated and crossed the line. I declared that I would not allow anyone to attack a police officer or a civilian or to burn a police vehicle,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian-Israeli protest leaders announced Wednesday that they plan to issue an urgent letter to the Attorney General and to the Police Commissioner demanding immediate prosecution of the offending officer as well as dismissal of charges against protesters arrested at the Tel Aviv demonstration. Furthermore, they announced that the protests were scheduled to resume Monday in Tel Aviv.