Lod, Israel, May 12 (EFE).- The current flare up of violence between Israelis and Palestinians is not confined to the Gaza Strip, but has spread to different parts of Israel, including the ethnically mixed city of Lod, whose Jewish and Arab citizens have been clashing for days in what the mayor has described as a “civil war”.
While Monday night’s barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, and the subsequent retaliatory shelling by Israeli forces, grabbed all the headlines, hotspots were emerging in Israel’s mixed towns.
Hundreds of Israeli Arabs took to the streets to demand an end to the repression in occupied East Jerusalem and especially against last weekend’s riots at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
While the clashes in Jerusalem have since subsided, the protests have continued to grow, especially in Lod, where an Arab protester was shot dead on Monday by a Jewish citizen who tried to prevent a mob from attacking vehicles and homes.
Since that incident, what was until now a relatively cordial coexistence has disintegrated into sectarian violence between neighbors.
Jewish residents condemn the Arab population’s attacks on synagogues, vehicles and residences, while Muslims denounced the burning of their vehicles and attacks by Jewish religious groups, both in the streets and inside a mosque.
The city awoke on Wednesday to a state of emergency, with hundreds of police from different parts of the country sent in as reinforcements to patrol half-empty streets where burnt out cars outnumber pedestrians. A curfew is in force and access to the city will be prohibited until Thursday morning.
On Wednesday morning, Yedidya Harris spoke to Efe outside a Jewish religious school that was in flames overnight which she helped put out once the rioters had dispersed.
“I never imagined that my neighbors would try to hurt me. We work together, I help them carry the groceries, this is crazy,” she explains, meters from a Jewish family leaving their house carrying suitcases for fears that the violence will escalate further.