Photo Credit: Yossi Aloni / Flash 90
Israeli police seen on the streets of the central Israeli city of Lod, where synagogues and cars were torched as well as shops damaged, by Arab residents who rioted in the city. May 12, 2021.

Israel Police and local police reported in the wee hours of Thursday morning that some 400 arrests for rioting and violence in mixed Israeli cities were made since early Wednesday evening. Thirty-six police officers were injured. Two suspects were arrested in connection with shootings at police officers the night before in Lod.

The situation was finally “completely quiet” in the central Israeli city of Lod at midnight Wednesday night, according to local police commander Shimon Dahan, who told Israel’s Channel 12 News that his forces “asked those from outside the city who came here, to please leave and go back home.”

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Lod Under Curfew After ‘State of Emergency’ Declared

That optimistic picture was not shared by a resident of the city, however.

Lod resident Rinat Bloch told Channel 12 News, however, that Dahan’s description couldn’t be further from the truth, describing violence she witnessed right outside her window and the threat she felt.

Watch: Lod Deputy Mayor Filmed Results of Arab Pogrom in his Child’s Classroom
“We sat at home tonight and felt there was no one to protect us; we said we would bring in people, especially, to protect us,” she said. “Here is a text from a friend telling me her life is threatened, who is sitting this moment in a neighborhood that [police] said is completely quiet!” Bloch said.

Earlier in the day, an Israeli Jewish man was shot by a rioter in an Arab mob, also in Lod. He was taken to Shamir Medical Center.

Since the start of the violence in Lod, one person was killed and numerous others wounded. More than 30 cars were torched, including a police vehicle, three synagogues were burnt and Jewish homes and businesses attacked.

At least in Lod, there was officially a curfew in place from 8 pm to 4 am, providing some leverage for police to implement measures to bring the situation under control. But the fact of the curfew did nothing to keep the rioters in line. That required efforts by police, who made 20 arrests on Wednesday night alone.

The same violence was seen in Bat Yam, in Jaffa (Yafo), in Tiberias, Tamra, Akko and Haifa.

An Israeli Jewish man was lynched by an Arab mob in Tamra late in the evening, according to Channel 12 News. Few details were available.

An Israeli Jewish man in his 30s was lynched by an Arab mob in in the ancient mixed city of Akko; he was nearly dead after being beaten with sticks and bars and rocks by the attackers, and was taken to Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, where he is listed in serious condition.

Jewish Man in Akko Critically Injured by Arab Lynch Mob

An Israeli Arab man was lynched by a mob of Jewish thugs in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam; he too was nearly killed. He is listed in fair condition. The same hooligans, who planned to enter Yafo to attack the local Arab population before they were stopped by police, instead smashed the windows of shops owned by Arabs — including an ice cream parlor — and smashed windows of cars on the street as well, yelling “Death to Arabs!”

In Haifa, rioters attacked a driver who ran over a 27-year-old resident of the city. The victim was evacuated by Magen David Adom to Rambam Hospital in the city. The driver, in his 20s, was arrested and held for questioning.

Council members from Lod, Akko, Haifa, Tel Aviv-Yafo and Ramla released a joint statement Wednesday night, calling for calm.

“We, Jews and Arabs, members and members of the councils in the mixed cities of Israel, call on the mayors involved, our partners in the city councils and the entire public to do everything in their power to enable protests by members of minority groups, avoid violence and dialogue.”

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef issued a statement Wednesday night clearly aimed at the Jewish thugs.

“Innocent Israeli citizens are being attacked by terrorist organizations, the blood is indeed hot and our hearts are outraged; the scenes are difficult to watch. However, we must not be dragged into provocations and to hurting people or harming property,” he said.

“According to the Torah, there is no permission to take the law into one’s hands and act violently. The work of restoring order must be left to the police. We must be a light unto the nations, and not, G-d forbid, the opposite,” Rabbi Yosef added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also called for calm in a public statement on Wednesday night.

“What is happening in Israel’s cities over the past few days is unacceptable,” Netanyahu said in a national broadcast. “We have seen Arab rioters set fire to synagogues and vehicles and attack police officers. They are attacking peaceful and innocent citizens. This is something that we cannot accept; it is anarchy.

“Nothing justifies this, and I will tell you that nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs and nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews,” he underlined.

“We will not tolerate this. This violence is not us. We will restore administration and governance in Israel’s cities everywhere, in all cities, in the Jewish-Arab integrated cities, in Jewish cities, everywhere.”

Netanyahu said that he has ordered the police to adopt emergency powers, to reinforce with Border Police units and to impose curfews where necessary.

“I am now going to an emergency meeting in order to give the police additional powers, give more backing for the police, and give them additional forces,” he continued.

“I also intend to bring in military forces according to the existing law and we will pass an additional law if necessary. We must tell the police and soldiers that we are sending them to maintain order. We will do everything so that they will have the necessary powers and forces to carry out the mission.

“To the citizens of Israel I say that I do not care if your blood is boiling. You cannot take the law into your own hands.

“You cannot grab an ordinary Arab citizen and try to lynch him – just as we cannot watch Arab citizens do this to Jewish citizens. This will not happen. This is something that I am certain is shared by most citizens of Israel.

“We are in a fight on two fronts, on one front against Hamas; we are all united and Hamas is firing missiles and rockets that hurt Jews and Arabs alike.

“Let us come together and do the task that is necessary for us as citizens of our state – to restore governance, eliminate this anarchy and maintain and restore the security and quiet that we all deserve.”

Lod Mayor Yair Revivo characterized the events of Tuesday night as being akin to “Kristallnacht” — he called the escalating clashes a “civil war”, as have a number of other officials.

The real question is whether this violence, which is spreading to more mixed cities by the day, is a “civil war” or the Third Intifada everyone has anticipated and worried about, arriving just in time to help terrorist brethren as they again attempt to annihilate the State of Israel and those Jews living within.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.