As the Israeli military and Palestinian militants in Gaza exchange deadly airstrikes and rocket bombardments, rioting and violent clashes have also swept through several Israeli cities between Arab and Jewish citizens.
In Bat Yam, south of Jaffa, graphic video Wednesday night showed a Jewish right-wing mob trying to lynch an Arab driver. Police say the man was dragged from his car before the assault began. Video shows about 20 people hitting him with metal objects and kicking him in the head repeatedly. He was taken to hospital where his injuries were described by police as moderate.
In Acre, north of Haifa, a lynching attempt by an Arab mob left a Jewish man critically wounded, according to Israeli police. A police spokesman said the mob attacked police officers with stones before attacking the victim with stones and iron bars.
“We are very, very worried about this deterioration,” Israeli lawmaker Aida Touma-Suleiman in Acre told CNN’s Hala Gorani in a live interview on late Wednesday evening local time.
“I am locked in my house, it’s happening in front of my house, and there is no way to go out. The tear gas is filling the houses, and the situation is insecure. There has been attacks on Arab citizens in different cities today,” she said.
“I’m really, really worried about this city (Acre). The same is happening in Haifa. The same is happening in Lod. There are different attacks on different citizens.”
The Israeli-Arab lawmaker went on to say: “I’m not sure that the police is able or even willing to control the situation.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday slammed the violence in Israeli cities as “unacceptable” and said he had ordered the police to adopt emergency powers, to reinforce with Border Police units, and to impose curfews where necessary.
“Nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs and nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews,” he said in a statement.
“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,” Netanyahu added. “You cannot grab an ordinary Arab citizen and try to lynch him — just as we cannot watch Arab citizens do this to Jewish citizens.”
Militants in Gaza have fired more than 1,000 rockets into Israel since the latest flareup began Monday afternoon, and Israel has responded with devastating airstrikes in Gaza.
Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza has now killed at least 83 people, including 17 children and seven women, the Gaza-based Palestinian Health Ministry reported Thursday. At least 487 people have sustained various injuries, the ministry said.