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Police officer stabbed at Tel Aviv protest over hit-and-run case

The incident occurred during a protest by hundreds of people, mostly members of Israel's Ethiopian community, over the handling of a hit-and-run case involving the death of 4-year-old Ethiopian Israeli Rafael Adana.

Protesters clash with police in Tel Aviv over the handling of a hit-and-run case involving the death of 4-year-old Rafael Adana, Aug. 23, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Protesters clash with police in Tel Aviv over the handling of a hit-and-run case involving the death of 4-year-old Rafael Adana, Aug. 23, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

A police officer was stabbed during a protest in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening over the handling of a hit-and-run case involving a child from the country’s Ethiopian community.

The 25-year-old officer was transported to Ichilov Hospital in mild to moderate condition after being stabbed in the shoulder near Menachem Begin Road. Police are searching for the suspect, who fled the scene.

Four other officers were injured after hundreds of demonstrators, mostly from the Ethiopian community, who had gathered in front of the Azrieli towers breached the security perimeter and blocked Ayalon Highway for three hours, according to police.

The protesters are accusing authorities of racism in the handling of the case.

Ten people were arrested for disorderly conduct, throwing stones and attacking police officers, police said. A 35-year-old protester was moderately injured after falling off a bridge during a police chase, and was also taken to Ichilov.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement condemning the incident, calling demonstrations a “sacred right in a democratic country” but emphasizing that “we will neither accept nor tolerate any kind of violence.”

“Stabbing a policeman is crossing a red line; I send my best wishes for a quick recovery. I call on all citizens of Israel to respect the law and the men and women of the security services,” he said.

Protests have been ongoing since prosecutors decided earlier this week not to charge Netanya resident Carol Fessler with homicide, after she hit and killed 4-year-old Rafael Adana in Netanya on the afternoon of May 6 and fled the scene. The boy was walking with his grandfather and his 7-year-old brother Tamir when the accident occurred.

Prosecutors said that they do intend to charge Fessler, who is in her 70s, with neglect. Channel 12 reported that Fessler later claimed that she “didn’t feel” the vehicle striking anything. She turned herself into police several hours later, provided testimony and was released to house arrest.

The prosecution said that their decision was based on the findings of traffic examiners who said that the accident was “unavoidable.”

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