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Israeli leaders have warned of a potential civil war as Jewish-Arab unrest grows

Israeli cities see their fourth night of communal violence with no sign of slowing down. It’s the worst unrest in decades.

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City.
Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021.
Associated Press

As the conflict between Israel and Palestine intensifies, unrest within Israel has reached a level unseen in years. Communal violence between Arab and Jewish Israelis continued for the fourth night Thursday. According to The New York Times, Israeli leaders have begun warning about a potential civil war.

Worst unrest in two decades

The violence in mixed Jewish-Arab cities began Monday in response to the Israeli police raid on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. However, Arab-Israelis have long complained of being treated as second-class citizens, The New York Times reports.

According to The New York Times, the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Thursday, “We need to solve our problems without causing a civil war that can be a danger to our existence.”

Lod becomes the epicenter of violence

The communal violence began Monday in Jerusalem but has now spread across Israel, with clashes in Lod, Tiberia, Umm al-Fahm, and Hadera, among other cities.

A city of 80,000 people with 30% Arab residents, Lod has emerged as the epicenter. On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in Lod after the city fell into full-scale riots. Israel has not declared a state of emergency over an Arab community since 1966, according to Fox News.

The internal conflict shows no signs of slowing down and adds another complicated layer to the current situation in Israel. The New York Times said that the situation is “rapidly evolving into a new kind of war — faster, more destructive and capable of spinning in unpredictable new directions.”