Ethiopian police injured about 50 people planning to protest outside the Israeli embassy in Addis Ababa to seek resettlement as Jews, a representative of the protesters’ said.
The attacks occurred when police stormed into a makeshift synagogue where 500 members of the Association of Ethiopian Jews in Addis Ababa had gathered to plan demonstrations, said Sisay Birhan, the association’s secretary.
Israel announced last year that it was resettling 7 800 Ethiopian Jews from the northern city of Gondar, where a thriving community once existed, but has turned down all applications from the group in the capital, Reuters reports.
“We have around 50 injured, including one who is fighting for his life,” Sisay told Reuters.
The association has some 2 000 members.
“We were there to organise our next move. We planned to distribute leaflets and march towards the embassy,” he said. “Police then barged in and beat some of the participants.”
Ethiopian authorities were not immediately available for comment.
Denying accusations they are Jewish imposters, the group’s members say they moved to the capital in the mid-1990s with the hope of fast-tracking their move to the middle-eastern nation.
Over 100 000 Ethiopian Jews already live in Israel, a vast majority of them airlifted in the 1980s and 1990s after a rabbinical creed ruled they were descendents of the biblical Dan tribe.
Israeli officials say most of those left behind are imposters seeking entry under the guise of religion.