Hundreds of Ethiopian-born Israelis rallied in Petach Tikva Wednesday in protest of what they defined as racist policies in the city's education system, as well as the wide-spread racism towards Ethiopians in Israeli society in general.
Protesters tried to force their way into Petach Tikva's City Hall, but were stopped by security guards. Some of the participants blocked the entrance to the building and stood for a minutes of silence "in memory of the education system, which passed away last week."
Meanwhile, other protesters blocked a main intersection nearby, and police forces at the scene decided to enable them to carry on with the rally despite the disruption to traffic.
Fighting 'rampant racism'
"The objective of this demonstration is to denounce the rampant racism in Petach Tikva in particular and in Israeli society in general," head of an umbrella organization for Ethiopian grassroots groups Danny Kasshon told Ynet.
Blocking the road (Photo: Raanan Ben-Zur)
"We are fighting the whole issue of racism towards Israelis of Ethiopian descent. Quite a few racial incidents have been registered in the last year in Or-Yehuda, Ashdod, Petach Tikva and other places.
"It's time to say we will not keep quiet anymore, enough… We demand that all racist manifestations in the city be investigated, and that those behind it stand trial."
Petach Tikva municipality officials said that the town's mayor, Itzik Ohayon, has approached the Ethiopian community's leaders several times in recent days and suggested to meet, but the leaders declined. "We want to meet with them and try to resolve the problems," said the municipality's spokesman Hezi Hakak.