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.
- Jews and Arabs have attacked each other with beatings as well as stones, knives, and gunfire. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against lynchings between the communities.
- Mosques and synagogues have been burned in multiple cities, the New York Times reports.
- Cars, shops, homes and other property have been burned and destroyed.
- Over 750 individuals have been arrested, according to a police spokesman.
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.
- The current unrest has reached a point of chaos and near-collapse unseen since the second Palestinian “antifada,” or uprising, 21 years ago.
- Israeli politicians and religious leaders have called for an end to the violence, fearing further escalation, according to The Times of Israel.
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
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.
- Arab rioters in Lod have burned synagogues, thrown rocks at police, set up flaming barricades and vandalized property.
- Jewish rioters killed one Arab man and stoned another, nearly to death, the New York Times reported. Armed groups of Jewish extremists arrived Thursday evening as violence continued into the night.
- The Israeli military has sent reinforcements of thousands of border police into Lod to restore peace, a rare move according to the Associated Press.
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.”