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Lod under curfew as violent riots continue in mixed Jewish-Arab city

CM 12/05/2021

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Police imposed a curfew on the city of Lod Wednesday night between 8 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. This includes a ban on Lod residents from leaving their homes and prohibiting anyone from entering the city.

With fierce rioting continuing Tuesday night in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, a state of emergency was declared, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz announcing the deployment of several Border Police units to help quell the violence that saw the burning of three synagogues and dozens of cars. 

At least two people were in serious condition from the clashes, one from rocks. In Acre, another mixed Arab-Jewish city in northern Israel, an 84-year-old man was seriously hurt when a restaurant was set on fire by rioters. Some 25 residents of Ramla and Lod were arrested on Tuesday night, according to a police spokesperson, and 151 were arrested in total within the central-northern district of Israel.

“We have lost control of the city and the streets,” Lod Mayor Yair Revivo lamented to Israel’s Channel 12 News. Garbage bins, knocked over and set ablaze, could be seen nearby.A car set on fire by Israeli Arab residents during riots and clashes between Arab and Jewish residents, in the central Israeli town of Lod, on May 12, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)A car set on fire by Israeli Arab residents during riots and clashes between Arab and Jewish residents, in the central Israeli town of Lod, on May 12, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai commented on the violence seen in Lod late Tuesday night: “We have not seen this kind of violence since October 2000,” he said, in reference to Arab riots that took place at the beginning of what would later become the Second Intifada. Shabtai said that he was moving his office to Lod until the anarchy there settled down. 

Uri Buri, a popular Jewish-owned fish restaurant in the mixed coastal city of Acre, had been set ablaze. Footage aired by Channel 12 showed the restaurant’s exterior blacked and burned, and its windows smashed.
In Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, Arab protesters clashed with police, who fired stun grenades to disperse them.In Arab cities across Israel and the Palestinian territories, police arrested 21 rioters participating in violent demonstrations. Fires engulfed the areas in and around Wadi Ara, Jisr az-Zarqa and Um al Fahm, as Israeli police attempted to maintain order, shooting rubber bullets and stun grenades as they were pelted with rocks and Molotov cocktails.The detained were brought in on the suspicion of throwing stones, setting off fireworks, burning trash cans and tires as well as assaulting police officers. In the North, full-scale riots took place in the town of Majd al-Krum.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed security forces to respond harshly to those who violently protest and threaten public security.”We will not tolerate this; we need to restore calm,” Netanyahu said during a Wednesday pre-dawn visit to Lod. “If this isn’t an emergency situation, I don’t know what is. We are talking about life and death here.” 

When asked by reporters whether police activity in Jerusalem may have led to the unrest in Lod, Netanyahu shut the assumption down: “These events have no excuse; this is fundamental hate.”

Gantz  indicated that as defense minister, he will provide all the necessary means to security forces in order to restore calm, including the power to enforce a lockdown. 

Revivo, the mayor, warned of deaths if the violent riots continue.  “People might die tonight if the government doesn’t put Lod into a lockdown within the next hour,” he warned. The Lod Municipality has helped evacuate residents who felt that their safety and security were at risk.

“We’ve gotten to a place where we have to treat criminals harshly, cool things down and maintain social order,” Gantz said. 
During the course of the violent riots throughout the city, the Maoz Yeshiva in the mixed Jewish-Arab Ramat Eshkol neighborhood was firebombed, causing massive damage to one classroom and lesser damage to another, as well as superficial damage to the façade of the building. In addition, a synagogue was set on fire, as well as numerous cars belonging to Jewish residents. 

For more on rocket attacks against Israel read here
For more on Israeli strikes on Gaza read here

For more on live rocket attack updates read hereFor more on riots in Israel read here
For more on world reactions to Gaza violence read here
Firefighters also managed to successfully put out a massive fire in a tire shop, as well as fires in several residential buildings. Footage obtained by The Jerusalem Post showed private streets in some of the quieter neighborhoods of Lod with cars set aflame in the middle of Tuesday night.

Initial escalations began as hundreds of Arab residents protested in Lod on Monday night in solidarity with Palestinians in east Jerusalem and Gaza by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails around while marching toward the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Eskhol. 

Israel police in the Ramle-Lod region reported that 16 protesters were arrested on Monday evening during riots in which around 200 Arab youth arrived to protest in solidarity with Palestinians in east Jerusalem. Many were seen throwing stones and bottles and launching fireworks at police and buildings, while also burning trash cans and tires. 
Musa Malakh Hassuna, a 33-year-old Lod resident and father of three, was shot dead during the riots on Hahashmonaim Street in Lod. Two more people were moderately injured in the incident, including a 20-year-old man. 
Violence continued on Tuesday night following the funeral of Hassuna, with rioters clashing with police, throwing rocks and rubble and once again setting fires.The riots took place over the backdrop of the Sheikh Jarrah conflict in east Jerusalem, in which a neighborhood populated by Arab residents is under proprietary dispute, pending a decision by the High Court of Justice. The ongoing conflict has led to protests throughout Israel.
“The danger that Lod faces, and the damage that it can do, is harsher than hundreds of rockets being hurled towards Israel,” Revivo said. On Wednesday, The Lod District Court on Wednesday rejected the appeal for the release of the three detainees from the shooting incident in the city last night and decided to extend the detention of the three suspects until tomorrow.
Idan Zonshine and Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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