Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today declared a state of emergency in the city of Lod near Tel Aviv, in the wake of “wide-scale riots.”
Lod is populated by 77,000 people, including 47,000 Jewish Israelis and 23,000 Arab Israelis. It and other mixed Jewish-Arab towns and villages erupted into hours of violent protests over the Gaza violence and in support of Palestinians who were clashing with police at the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem.
Riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades in Lod after rioters throw rocks at officers during the funeral of 25-year old Arab resident Moussa Hassoun who was allegedly shot and killed by Jewish man, who was arrested along with 2 other suspects.
Several citizens were reportedly injured, including one man who sustained serious head wounds sustained during a rock attack by a mob.
Enraged protestors also torched several vehicles including a patrol car, and set fire to a synagogue, a military academy and train tracks. Several stores and other businesses in the central city were vandalized.
2 police officers were injured and at least 16 rioters were arrested.
Following a briefing at the Acre police station with the city’s mayor, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, the Inspector General of the Israel Police and other senior officials, Netanyahu appealed for calm.
“We are in a fight on several fronts. Last night, at 02:00, after the discussions and decisions at the Kirya about the situation in Gaza, I went to Lod, another front of anarchy that was opened there. We also made decisions there and brought in forces and this afternoon here in Acre. We will continue the effort to stop the anarchy, restore governance to Israel’s cities with an iron fist if necessary, with all necessary force and with all necessary authority,” he said.
“First of all, this is intolerable,” he said of the “disturbances that we saw, unfortunately, in the Jewish-Arab integrated cities,” adding that “this reminds us of scenes from the history of our people and we cannot accept this, certainly not in our state.”
Netanyahu said that he ordered the deployment of Border Police units from Judea and Samaria to assist the Israel Police in Lod, Acre and other locations which “are now under police control in a way that they had not been previously, and this is important.” He said that the forces have been given “emergency situation authority” so they “are equipped with tools including the imposition of curfews, if necessary.”
Underscoring that “It must be understood that the first thing we want is to stop the wave of riots,” the Prime Minister said he called “on all public leaders, especially the leaders of the Arab public, to condemn and to take all action to stop this. We will use the sovereign power in our hands to impose order and restore quiet and security to the citizens and cities of Israel.”
He concluded his remarks, saying that, “The fabric of life that we all aspire to and that we are all proud of, there are those who are trying to unravel it, we will not allow this. We will deal with them and we will impose governance and restore Acre and the cities of Israel to the track of integration, success and taking full part in the wonder that is Israel. Whoever thinks that they will succeed in moving us backward – they will not succeed thanks to the combination of correct policy, the investment of resources and also much force where it is necessary.”
“If somebody thinks that there will not be united, strong and forceful leadership here due to this or that consideration, they are mistaken,” stressed Netanyahu.
“We are here and we are using the full weight of our power in order to defend the State of Israel from enemies from without and from rioters within,” he said.
Israeli Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said “such a level of aggression motivated by nationalism” has not been seen before, and that he would be opening an office in the city. ”
In other spill-over violence into Israel’s Arab sector, 2 police officers injured in clashes with rioters in the predominately Arab Tel Aviv suburb of Jaffa. 1 suspect was arrested.
Police remain on high alert across central and northern Israel against further possible disturbances in the mixed areas of Haifa and Acre, as well as Arab towns of Sakhnin, Tamra, Deir al-Assad, Baana and others.
11 suspects were also detained for disorderly conduct and assaulting police officers during a protest in the southern city of Beersheba yesterday.
An 18-year-old was stabbed during clashes that erupted between Jews and Bedouin Arabs, and hospitalized in moderate-to-serious condition.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin held an urgent phone call with Mudar Yunes, chair of the Association of Arab Heads of Local Councils and conveyed a strong message regarding Arab violence in the streets of some of Israel’s mixed cities.
“We must not allow these sights to recur. We must not be held hostage by murderous Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, who are firing indiscriminately on Israeli citizens,” President Rivlin told Mr. Yunes, adding, “I appeal to you to do whatever you can to calm the situation. The Israeli people, Jews and Arabs alike, need to hear the Arab leadership speak out strongly and clearly against violence, against damage to synagogues, against this outburst of disorder.”
President Rivlin also noted that the violence “should be a matter of concern to the Arab leadership no less than they are to the Jewish leadership – and that if there is no clear expression of concern about damage to Israel’s holy sites and to the fabric of shared existence, the damage could become irreparable.”
After reiterating his appeal for help in re-establishing calm, Rivlin underscored that, “The Israeli people, Jews and Arabs alike, need to hear the Arab leadership speak out strongly and clearly against violence, against damage to synagogues, against this outburst of disorder.”
He also promised that the police will do everything necessary to restore public order, and requested cooperation of the Arab leadership to bring quiet and law and order back to the streets.
In related developments, 2 Palestinian terrorists were shot and arrested while attempting a car-ramming attack at the Tapuah Junction in the West Bank last night, that was the site of another attack on 2 May that killed 1 Israeli and wounded 2 others.
In a separate incident, a Palestinian woman armed with a knife was prevented from entering a bus station in Samaria by a volunteer fire-and-rescue volunteer.