Israeli-Arab mobs set fire to synagogues, religious schools, cars

Residents charged police with being ineffective as hundreds rioted throughout the night in support of Hamas rocket fire at Israel.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

There was heavy Arab rioting throughout the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Lod Monday night in support of Hamas’ launching some 200 rockets in the last day at southern and central Israel.

Meir Layush, a city activist, called the night’s events a “war” in an online post, and criticized the authorities for not responding properly.

When Arabs tried breaking into one Jewish neighborhood, he wrote, “The police didn’t come for many long minutes. The residents were forced to fire in the air facing a crowd that didn’t care, until they shot at them, wounding two of the rioters. Whole families are barricading themselves in their homes and don’t know what to do.”

The rioters should feel the heavy hand of the law, he said.

“Stun grenades aren’t enough. You need to give the police ‘open fire’ orders at the lower body. Whoever is rioting with the goal of hurting someone else should die, period,” he said.

Other residents in the neighborhood reported to website Mako that they felt that their lives had been in real danger by the rock-throwing mob, and they had to defend themselves as the police had taken 45 minutes to arrive.

One of those shot later died of his wounds.

One anonymous Jewish resident quoted in a Channel 20 report gave a reason for the authorities’ inaction. “Hundreds of calls to the police and fire department to no avail,” she wrote. “Because the police are busy in many hotspots and the fire department won’t come without a police presence because they are pelted with rocks. They only come when everything is out of control and we feel like we’re in the Wild West.”

She described one protest she saw as “a violent demonstration supporting Gaza with men, women and children waving Palestinian flags. Just to be clear, these aren’t just young hotheads. Burning tires at best, and cars and more at worst.”

The “worst” included setting fire to a police station, a newly built museum, synagogues, a Jewish primary school and a pre-military academy, all of which sustained heavy damage. A Torah scroll was burned in the pre-military academy along with holy books in every religious site.

Residents went from synagogue to synagogue overnight to bring their Torah scrolls home in order to protect them from being turned to ashes by the mobs, she added, “like in the very dark days” of Jewish history.

On a brief video clip of a man carrying a large scroll to safety, a young woman can be heard saying, “It’s simply a surreal, crazy scene to see in the neighborhood.”

Arabs in many other parts of the country also blocked roads, burned tires and threw rocks, bottles and fireworks at police forces while Israelis mainly from Ashkelon southward suffered siren after siren warning of incoming fire from the Gaza Strip.

In one of the most serious incidents reported on Channel 12, rioters put a police station in Segev Shalom, a Bedouin town southeast of Beer Sheba, under siege for hours, threatening the lives of the officers trapped inside before they were finally dispersed.

In another, several men blocked a driver’s car at a junction of Route 6 in the south, forcibly removed her from the vehicle and then set it on fire.

In total, only 31 were arrested for their actions, the report said. Religious Zionist Party head Betzalel Smotrich criticized the police heavily, calling the situation “Sodom and Gomorrah.”