Israeli Gaza conflict: Community violence erupts in Israeli cities after days of airstrikes and rocket attacks

In the city of Acre, a Jewish man was wounded in a life-threatening attempt by an Arab mob, the Israeli media say. A graphic video in Bat Yam shows a right-wing Jewish crowd trying to lynch an Arab driver. According to Israeli press reports, he was wounded and taken to hospital.

“We are very, very worried about this deterioration,” Israeli lawmaker Aida Touma-Suleiman said in a live interview with CNN’s Hala Gorani late Wednesday night local time.

“I am locked in my house, it happens in front of my house and there is no way to go out. Tear gas fills the houses and the situation is precarious. Today there have been attacks on Arab citizens in different cities,” he said.

“I’m very, very worried about this city (Acre). The same thing is happening in Haifa. The same thing is happening in Lodon. There are different attacks on different citizens.”

The Israeli-Arab legislature continued, “I’m not sure if the police are able or even willing to control the situation.”

An Israeli artillery unit shoots at Gaza targets.
The controversy over the planned eviction of Palestinian families in Jerusalem and restrictions on the popular East Jerusalem rendezvous point – at the beginning of Ramadan – escalated in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this week and quickly spread to the worst violence between the two parties.

“We are moving towards a full-blown war. Leaders on all sides must commit to breaking down the escalation,” Tor Wennesland, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said on Wednesday.

Gaza soldiers have fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israel since the start of the latest flare-up on Monday afternoon, and Israel has responded with devastating airstrikes in Gaza.

Anger over the situation sparked fierce protests in central Israel, in the city of Lod, where Israeli police on Wednesday reported people throwing rocks at passing cars and blocking roads into the early hours.

A truck burns at the entrance to the Jewish-Arab mixed town of Lod, where a state of emergency has been declared.

Lair Mayor Yair Revivo said decades of coexistence had been “trampled”.

According to him, the Arab-Israeli rioters “burned synagogues, the Talmud Torah, dozens of vehicles, burned rubbish bins, destroyed Israeli flags and worse, lowered the Israeli flag and hoisted the Palestinian flag on a night of riots and rioting, which they found themselves as a siege.

Meanwhile, an Arab-Israeli resident of Lodi, Wael Essawi, told CNN that Israeli police and Jewish residents stormed the mosque during prayers on Tuesday night before giving tear gas and burning cars.

“We couldn’t do anything, but we opened the windows to breathe … it was very intense,” Essawi said.

Another resident, Khaled Zabarqah, said thousands were beaten with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets after Monday’s Palestinian protest against Israel’s policy in Jerusalem before Israelis began throwing stones and beating the group.

“My 15-year-old daughter was awakened by the sound of stones thrown into her bedroom window, and then she was awakened by her terrified screams,” Zabarqah said.

“We could do nothing but defend and defend ourselves by any means, or defend ourselves, or kill us,” he said.

Smoke rises from the tower building, which was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.

On Tuesday, a 25-year-old Arab-Israeli man was shot and killed in the city by a 34-year-old Jewish man who shot at protesters after being targeted by rocks, police said.

Police arrested two suspects in connection with a shooting in Lod.

The CNN team, who passed through the city early Wednesday early, believed some of the roads were full of rocks; burnt-out cars can be seen on the side of the road following a night of unrest in the central city of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday described the violence in Israeli cities as “unacceptable” and said he had instructed police to accept emergency powers, confirm with border police units and introduce a curfew if necessary.

“Nothing justifies lynching Jews by Arabs, and nothing justifies lynching Arabs by Jews,” he said in a statement.

“I tell the citizens of Israel that I don’t care how your blood boils. You can’t take the law in your hands,” Netanyahu added. “You can’t grab an ordinary Arab citizen and try to lynch you – just as we can’t see how Arab citizens do that to Jewish citizens.”