Israeli policeman who killed black teen released on bail

Police officer freed from house arrest two weeks after 19-year-old Solomon Teka was shot, causing nationwide protests.

Protest in Tel Aviv against Racism
Monday's decision coincided with an Israeli parliament session on issues facing the Ethiopian-Israeli community [File: Anadolu]

A police officer who shot dead a 19-year-old Ethiopian Israeli, causing nationwide protests, has been freed on bail from house arrest, Israel’s justice ministry said on Monday.

The officer, who was off-duty and said he felt his life was in danger at the time of the shooting on June 30, will be subject to a series of restrictions while the investigation continues.

The bail amount was not made public by the ministry following the closed-door court hearing over the shooting of Solomon Teka in Kiryat Haim near the northern port city of Haifa.

Israeli media reported the amount at 5,000 shekels ($1,400).

Teka’s death sparked three days of nationwide protests that were often violent over long-standing grievances of Ethiopian Israelis, who say they are discriminated against and targeted by police because they are black.

There are some 140,000 Ethiopian-Israelis, of whom around 50,000 were born in Israel. They are Jewish, but say they are in many cases still seen as outsiders.

Monday’s decision coincided with an Israeli parliament session on issues facing the Ethiopian Israeli community.

Outside parliament, a few dozen demonstrators protested and chanted slogans such as “a murdering cop has to be in prison”, “we are all Solomon Teka” and “not black, not white, we’re all human”.

Some sought to block a nearby road before being cleared by police, who arrested seven people.

“As a mother, I’m scared. You raise a child, he goes out and you don’t know what police could do to him,” said Eden Gamber, a mother of two.

Police said Teka was killed when the off-duty officer saw a fight between youths and tried to break it up.

After the officer identified himself, the youths reportedly threw stones at him and he opened fire at Teka after feeling that his life was in danger, a police statement said.

Police later said the officer had not fired directly at Teka, but the bullet had ricocheted off the ground and then hit him.

Other young men and a passer-by said the policeman was not attacked, according to Israeli media reports, which also said the police officer under investigation will continue to be barred from leaving the country and from contacting anyone in relation to the ongoing case.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies