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Ethiopia concerned about Israeli 'brutality' and 'discrimination'

The Ethiopian foreign ministry expressed concern over "police brutality" in Israel and "years of widespread discrimination" against Israelis of Ethiopian origins, Israeli media reported yesterday.

According to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Ethiopian officials discussed the recent clashes between Israelis of Ethiopian origins and police, with the Israeli ambassador in Addis Ababa.

Yedioth Ahronoth said that the Ethiopian foreign ministry issued a statement several days ago regarding the issue. "While cautious of openly criticising the Israeli government, Israeli leaders admitting the mistakes made in the integration of Ethiopian Jews," the newspaper said.

The newspaper continued: "Among others, [Israeli] President Reuven Rivlin is quoted as saying that 'Israel has made mistakes in handling the Ethiopian Jewish community,' and described their suffering as an 'open and bleeding wound in the heart of Israeli society'."

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the statement also said that "Rivlin's statement comes after thousands of Israeli Ethiopians took to the streets to protest police brutality."

The statement also said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with representatives of the community and attempted to lower the tensions after the police fired stun grenades and used water cannons to disperse protesters in Tel Aviv.

"The violence originally erupted in Jerusalem ten days ago, when a large crowd confronted the police at a protest over the beating of an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier, Damas Pakada."

Netanyahu called for calm and said that he strongly condemned the beating and called for those responsible to be held accountable. He also said that Ethiopian immigrants are dear to everyone and Israel is working to assimilate them into society.

Israeli Ethiopians claim that their community, which is estimated at more than 130,000 people, has been suffering from widespread discrimination for many years.

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