Jewish-Arab Communal Riots Erupt in Israel’s Mixed Cities (with VIDEOS)
Rage at events at Al-Aqsa compound/Temple Mount, Gazan rocket fire, airstrikes on Strip leads to assaults on innocents
Violence spread to several cities on Wednesday night between Israel’s Jewish and Palestinian citizens. Demonstrations by far-right protesters erupted in several cities, leading to clashes with police and sometimes Arab Israelis. Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrated in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza and in opposition to the Israel military campaign against the coastal enclave.
Police responded to violent incidents in cities including Acre, Haifa and Lod.
The intercommunal violence began in Lod on Monday, when Arab residents rioted, angry at the impending eviction of several Arab families from homes in east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood that an Israeli court ruled belonged to Jews before the 1948 war, and at police for “storming” Al-Aqsa compound/the Temple Mount after Muslims there threw stones and launched fireworks at Jews gathered at the Western Wall plaza below.
The Media Line’s Mohammad Al-Kassim reports from Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on the background of the current Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Rioters in Lod on Tuesday night torched three synagogues, numerous shops and dozens of cars. On Wednesday night, a Jewish mob attacked Arabs.
Since Monday, armed Palestinian groups in Gaza have fired more than 1,600 rockets into Israel, and the Israel Air Force has carried out more than 600 strikes in the Strip, leading more Jewish and Arab hotheads to attack innocent members of the other ethnic group in Israel.
On Wednesday evening, when police prevented a group of far-right Jews in the coastal city of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv, from entering mostly Arab Jaffa, the young men vandalized Arab-owned shops and attacked an Arab man. The mob is seen in video pulling the victim from his car as he is beaten unconscious.
In Bat Yam, Israel, a mob pulls a man from his car and beats him unconscious, May 12, 2021.
Bat Yam Mayor Tzvika Brot said of the rioting, “The acts were organized by provocateurs who came from outside the city. This is not our way.”
It took police and an ambulance 15 minutes to arrive.
“The victim of the lynching is seriously injured but stable,” Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center said in a statement.
Violent clashes erupted for a third night in Lod, a mixed city in central Israel, after a Jewish man killed an Arab man. The shooter, who said he acted in self-defense, was arrested and charged with murder.
Major clashes and street fights led the mayor to declare a state of emergency.
A curfew was also put in place on Wednesday between 8 pm and 4 am. But despite that, a police car was set on fire and violent clashes erupted around the city.
Arab leaders in the city called for community protection units to help guard mosques and other Muslim and Arab properties.
Khalid Zabarka, an attorney who lives in Lod, appealed to residents to come out and protect the local mosque. He told The Media Line, “A group of settlers attacked the mosque as they were praying.” Zabarka accused the police of “allowing the settlers” to attack the Arabs.
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Issawi Frej, an Arab lawmaker from the left-wing Meretz party, said the events were a sign the country was heading toward civil war.
Police said the curfew was ordered by Central District commander Moshe Barkat after a special assessment led by Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, and that it was aimed at “safeguarding the well-being, security and property of Lod residents.”
On Wednesday morning, Israel ordered a substantial reinforcement of the police presence in cities with mixed Jewish and Arab populations, with several Border Police companies dispatched to restore order in Lod.
Residents riot in the streets of Jisr az-Zarqa, an Arab town on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, May 13, 2021.
In Acre, a mixed Arab-Jewish city in northwestern Israel, stone-throwers seriously wounded a Jew, police said.
In Acre’s mixed Old City, an attack on a Jewish man was blamed on an Arab resident.
Meanwhile, journalist Mohammed Khatib was attacked and his car windows shattered as he drove to nearby Haifa.
A video taken in Haifa shows a group of people armed with clubs, believed to be Jews, trying to force their way into Sheikh Awad Mhamid’s home as he and another young man fight to keep them out while the sheikh’s wife and daughter are heard crying hysterically.
A mob of people tries to break into Sheikh Awad Mhamid’s home in Haifa, Israel, while he and another man try to keep them out, May 13, 2021.
Extreme right-wing rioters were also seen in Tiberias and Lod and more are expected to show up in other cities with large mixed Arab and Jewish populations.
In the northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, rioters set fire to an ambulance.
Modar, a young man from the town, his face covered with a keffiyeh to conceal his identity, told The Media Line that residents would no longer stand by without acting.
“They need to know that we will fight back; we have nothing to lose,” he said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the “anarchy” of Jewish-Arab violence in cities across the country.
“Nothing justifies” Jews attacking Arabs or Arabs attacking Jews, he said on Wednesday. He vowed to restore order after two days of violence unchecked by police.