The driver of a car dramatically attacked by rioters as it tried to break through an Ethiopian Israeli demonstration blocking a major highway spoke Wednesday of his fear.
The incident, which was captured on film, occurred Tuesday at a busy Tel Aviv intersection where protesters were demonstrating over the killing of Solomon Tekah, 19, by an off-duty policeman earlier in the week. The shooting reignited anger at perceived police racism against the minority community.
In footage shared on social media, the silver sedan can be seen surrounded by protesters who try to prevent it from driving through the Azrieli Junction. The driver argues with some of the protesters; then, as the car pushes slowly through the demonstrators, a man jumps on the hood and begins to repeatedly punch the windshield, apparently breaking it.
“Someone jumped on the hood and, with a murderous look in his eyes, punched the windshield,” the driver, who was not identified, told Channel 12 news. “In moments dozens of demonstrators gathered and started to smash the car with rocks, and spraying it with pepper spray.”
The footage then shows the car moving off, with the man still on the hood and with several protesters giving chase. After moving dozens of meters down the road the car comes to a stop, throwing the man off the hood and on to the road. Protesters surround the car and another man is seen jumping on to the trunk, where he begins kicking at the rear window to break it.
“I had three options,” the driver recalled. “Either I drive forward and kill someone, or I reverse and then I would be in the middle of the lynching, or I wait for the police to come rescue me — and that is what I did.”
Other footage appears to show a confusing scene in which some protesters then tried to pull the driver from the car while others attempted to block them, shielding the driver.
The driver was eventually rescued from the car by two police officers who required medical treatment after rioters attacked them with pepper spray.
Though the driver was pulled to safety, the car was later set on fire. Police arrested a 27-year-old man from Netanya for torching the car and the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court has since extended his arrest by three days.
Demonstrations continued Wednesday but were mostly muted, a sharp shift from a day earlier, when protests across the country descended into chaos.
Since Monday, protesters across Israel have blocked roads, burned tires and denounced what they say is systemic discrimination against the Ethiopian-Israeli community.
The demonstrations escalated after Tekah’s funeral on Tuesday, when some protesters set vehicles on fire, overturned a police car and clashed with officers and others who tried to break through their makeshift roadblocks.
According to police, more than 110 officers were wounded in the clashes, including from stones and bottles hurled at them, and 136 protesters were arrested for rioting.