Police officer who killed Ethiopian-Israeli released on bail

Policemen detain an Israeli man of Ethiopian origin during a protest outside the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem on Monday following the death of a young man of Ethiopian origin who was killed by an off-duty police officer in Kiryat Haim near the Israeli city of Haifa on June 30. — AFP

JERUSALEM — A police officer who shot dead a 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli, sparking nationwide protests, was freed on bail from house arrest on Monday, Israel's justice ministry said.

The officer, who was off-duty and said he felt his life was in danger at the time of the June 30 shooting, 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, 1,250 euros).

Teka's death sparked three days of nationwide protests that were often violent over longstanding 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 humans."

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 from Ramle in central Israel.

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 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 hadn't 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, Israeli media reported. — AFP