Photos: Haim Zach, GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met this afternoon with IDF soldier Damas Pakedeh, who was filmed being beaten by two policemen. Also participating in the meeting were Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino and MK Avraham Naguisa.
At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu told IDF soldier Pakedeh: “I was shocked by the pictures that I saw. We cannot accept this and the police are dealing with it. We need to change things. I heard that you said that you are against violence. This is important, this is the statement of a leader. You are an exemplary soldier and you are an example to others; this includes the fact that you called for a halt to the violence. We cannot accept inflammatory rhetoric, racism, looking down on people and the beating of an IDF soldier. We cannot accept this. The police will do what must be done to fix itself but we must also fix Israeli society because we love you. We love the Ethiopian community and all Israelis are in this together. We must act on the educational plane in order to change a norm in society. There is a deep problem here that needs to be resolved. This outburst is a result of genuine distress. We will fight this together. Much work remains to be done but this is the right direction. I am very happy to see you here. You are simply an example.”
IDF soldier Pakedeh told Prime Minister Netanyahu, “I oppose the violence that was directed at both policemen and civilians. What happened, the confrontations between the police and civilians, breaks my heart.” He told the Prime Minister that his mother passed away four years, due to illness, and that his father had passed away 15 years ago, also from an illness, when the family was still in Ethiopia.
IDF soldier Pakedeh told Prime Minister that he lives with his brothers: “I have another brother who is serving in the air force, as a computer systems technician, and he loves his job. We love our jobs and love to serve the country. We want to give of ourselves as much as we can and this is our goal.” He added, “For many years we dreamed of coming to the Land of Israel, all members of the Ethiopian community. We are trying to integrate as best we can in Israeli society and that they should recognize us. The Ethiopian community came to Israel via Sudan and lost many dear people along the way. It is time for us to unite. We must not quarrel. I hope that you will work against discrimination and racism.”
Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Danino referred to the assault on Pakedeh: “On behalf of the Israel Police, I regret this incident and as the Prime Minister said here, when I saw the clip, which speaks for itself, we dismissed the policeman immediately. Usually this involves a long process but in this instance we did not wait.”
Photos: Haim Zach, GPO