Protest leader slammed for allegedly racist comment at Ethiopian officer

Thousands gathered across Israel, including hundreds at Kikar Hamedina in Tel Aviv in anti-Netanyahu protests.

A protester holds a sign that reads, "Crime Minister," during demonstrations held against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. October, 10, 2020. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
A protester holds a sign that reads, "Crime Minister," during demonstrations held against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. October, 10, 2020.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Haskel, a prime leader in organizing the anti-corruption protest movement against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was heavily bashed on Tuesday with the publicizing of a video of him from August criticizing an Ethiopian police officer based on her race.
"I brought your parents here from Ethiopia, are you not ashamed?" Haskel asked in the video, referring to large-scale operations held by the IDF throughout his early years of service in order to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
"The moments that are shown in the video are moments that a number of young and strong officers shoved me and cursed at me," Haskel said on Tuesday in response to the now-viral video. He said that the video was taken when officers were evacuating protesters from their encampment near Balfour.
"The attempt to attribute a racist statement to me is baseless, but if anyone has been harmed then I am sorry. This is the place to emphasize that during my years in the Air Force, I was involved in the immigration of Ethiopian Jews – a project that I am proud of.
"Again, there is an industry of lying trying to make something out of nothing. After all, instead of dealing with the terrible violence of the police against the demonstrators in general and especially on that day, who acted in violation of the law and the ruling of the High Court, they choose to take the whole situation out of context."
According to the Ethiopian officer who the comment was directed at, she had just finished training when the incident occurred.
"At that moment I did not understand the seriousness of the man's words, but now that I have seen the videos, I am shocked that a senior officer is able to utter such words," she said, according to N12. 
"I am considering filing a complaint against him. I still cannot comprehend his statement; I have a hard time with it," she said.
Aliyah and Integration Minister Panina Tamano-Shatah, notably Israel's first Ethiopian-born minister, called on Ethiopians working in the security and health sectors to raise their heads and be proud. 
"They would be proud of who you are, and the way you do your job in the best and most loyal way. Let no man expect for a moment that you will stand still and not do your job because he thinks he is the lord of the land, or patronizingly thinks he is above you," she said.
Our parents walked hundreds of miles to immigrate to Israel. Let no one appropriate our story for themselves," Tamano-Shatah said. "Referring to origin based on color of skin is racism from people who do not understand that there are no masters and slaves here. In Israel, we are all equal." 

Deputy Public Security Minister Gadi Yevarkan called Haskel "racist and condescending towards Ethiopians."
"This is not how an IDF officer expresses himself. Haskel and his friends are sure that this is their land, that they are lords of the world, and all the rest are guests at best, and slaves at the worst," he said. "If they are not in control, then the state is lost. Netanyahu is just an excuse."
Meanwhile on Tuesday, thousands of Israelis left their homes to gather in locations nationwide to protest against Netanyahu. Many congregated at Kikar Hamedina in Tel Aviv, while others gathered on bridges, in squares, at intersections and even in car processions. 
Demonstrators in Tel Aviv began a procession against Netanyahu and police authority, in reference to recent reports of police attacking demonstrators.
Clashes broke out between protesters and police forces as demonstrators tried to break through a police barricade. 
Hundreds gather against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Kikar Hamedina, October 6, 2020. (VSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)Hundreds gather against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Kikar Hamedina, October 6, 2020. (VSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
"The marchers are not maintaining social distance and thus endangering public health, while violating coronavirus regulations," the Israel Police said in a statement.
On Saturday night, 38 demonstrators were detained as clashes broke out between the protesters and law enforcement on the scene. They were all later subsequently released. 
In response, protest organization leaders said that "following the release of the detainees from Saturday without any restrictions, we call on the Israeli Police to remember that its role is to protect us. 
"It is a crisis, which is a part of the trust crisis which brought the youth to a situation in which they do not have a choice but to go out to the streets."

Additionally on Tuesday, the police officer who was recorded allegedly throwing a demonstrator against a wall on Sunday, was released on Tuesday on probation following questioning.