Arabs and Jews in Israel Experience Lynching and Looting in the Streets
Israel and Palestine have been attacking each other with missiles for several days in a row now, which has caused another serious problem to appear. The conflict has plagued the coexisting communities of Jews and Arabs. The night from Wednesday to Thursday was the worst in this regard so far as there were skirmishes and a public lynching in several cities. This has happened even in places where Arab and Jewish communities have not had a problem living together. Police arrested at least 374 people, with some detainees under the age of 13.
Clashes again took place in the cities of Lod, Acre and Jerusalem on Wednesday night. Clashes in the cities of Bat Yam and Tiberias followed from Wednesday to Thursday night. The city of Lod declared a state of emergency due to the growing aggression in the streets, for the first time since 1966 in the territory of the state of Israel. It is a mixed Jewish-Arab city, about 15 kilometers south of Tel Aviv and appeared to be the epicenter of the unrest. In the evening, local Arab groups began setting fire to shops and looting them, along with dozens of cars. According to witnesses, they threw stones at the police, and the police threw stun grenades at the groups. Additional
security forces were deployed to stop Jews and Arabs battling in the city. A Synagogue and other Jewish property were torched, and a Jewish man was stabbed on his way to synagogue. „Israel should know that this is a complete loss of control,” said Mayor of the city Yair Revivo. „This is like Kristallnacht in Lod.”
A Jewish resident was attacked by the Arabs with the stones and iron rods in the city of Acre. In the city of Tamra, a Jewish citizen was also attacked and beaten, but was eventually rescued by an Arab caretaker and dragged away.
However, the night from Wednesday to Thursday also brought brutal attacks from the Jewish community. In the already mentioned city of Lod, where some of the most alarming scenes have been witnessed, pregnant Arab woman were attacked, when someone threw a rock at her head and she suffered serious head injuries. She gave birth to a healthy baby at the hospital after the attack. In the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, Jewish youths reportedly ransacked stores. An ice cream parlor owned by an Arab resident was raided, and the sentence „Death to the Arabs“ was heard from the scene. In the same suburb, an enraged mob of Jewish right-wing extremists attacked a live man whom the extremists thought was Arab. The mob pulled him out of his car and brutally lynched him on the street. According to The Guardian, the police did not arrive at the scene until 15 minutes later. The footage of the attack which was aired live on television showed that the man tried to avoid the mob and leave, not to knock them down, as they claimed. Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital reported that the man was in serious but stable condition. Footage of the attack also showed dozens of people wearing black masks ransacking Palestinian stores, with reports saying the Jewish ultra-nationalists attackers had responded to a call issued on social network by a group known as La Familia.
In Jerusalem, at the Mahane Yehuda market, there was another attack on the Arab, who suffered severe injuries.
The Arab minority in Israel makes up about 21% of the population of 9 million. That is about 1.96 million people, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. During the war that surrounded the creation of Israel in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced from or fled their homes. Those who stayed have been granted citizenship and are known as Israeli Arabs. About 80% of them are Muslim, the rest identifying as Christian or Druze. Most of Israeli Arabs identify with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. They say that they are treated as second-class citizens who face legal, institutional, and social discrimination, although the Israeli government says they have equal political and social rights except they are exempt from compulsory military service.
The leader of the United Arab List Mansour Abbas called for calm. He said the protests in Arab society were moving in a very dangerous direction because they had escalated into violence, which posed a threat to young Arabs. Abbas also called on the leadership to help calm the situation and protect public order.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the violence shocking and adding it was a threat. He said: „On this evening, more than ever, our internal divisions are what threaten us. The harsh images from the cities and streets tonight are Israelis tearing each other apart. The shocking violence in Bat Yam, Acre, Lod and other cities turns our stomachs and breaks the hearts of us all.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also expressed criticism. He denounced the violence with the term „pogrom” by a „blood-thirsty Arab mob”, as the Times of Israel reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: „What has been happening in the last few days in the cities of Israel is unacceptable. Nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews and nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs.”
Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said in a rare public appeal, that „We must not be dragged into provocations and inflicting harm on people or property. The Torah of Israel grants no license for taking the law into one’s hands and acting violently.”
The escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also likely to be linked to anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, where attacks on synagogues, protests, and other incidents, including the burning of Israeli flags, have increased in recent days. Synagogues were vandalized in Bonn and Mannheim and Anti-Israeli protests took place in Berlin, Hamburg, and Hanover.