‘Total loss of control’ as Arab violence explodes across Israel

Against the backdrop of the ongoing military clash between the Hamas terror group in Gaza and the Israeli army, simmering ethnic tensions in the Jewish State have come to a boil.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israeli politicians and religious figures, from President Reuven Rivlin to Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, lamented scenes of anarchic violence between Jewish and Arab Israeli civilians throughout Israel which continued into the early hours of Thursday morning.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing military clash between the Hamas terror group in Gaza and the Israeli army, simmering ethnic tensions in the Jewish State have come to a boil.

More than 400 people had been arrested for rioting and related crimes as of Thursday morning, some as young as 13 years old, in cities including Jerusalem, Haifa, Tiberias, Lod, Bat Yam, and Acre.

On Wednesday evening, a Jewish mob beat an Arab driver in an unprovoked assault in the city of Bat Yam. TV news cameras at the scene to cover a march of Jewish extremists captured the violence. The man is hospitalized in serious condition.

The day before, an Arab mob beat a Jewish man in the city of Acre with iron bars and rocks, sending the man to the hospital in critical condition. Rioters in Acre also set fire to the Jewish-owned Uri Buri restaurant and a hotel affiliated with the restaurant, trapping guests inside and causing severe injury to a man in his 80s.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod on Tuesday, as Arab Israeli rioters set synagogues and scores of cars ablaze, vandalized Jewish businesses, and attacked Jewish residents.

The city has been under an 8:00 p.m. curfew since then, but even with the presence of Israeli Border Police, unrest has continued.

Gili Gabai, the wife of a Jewish man stabbed in Lod early Thursday morning, told Army Radio he had been attacked by a “group of Arabs [shouting] ‘Allahu Akbar,’ [who] attacked him with stones and rocks. One pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the back

“My husband is currently in the hospital. He is stable and doing okay,” she said.

Although Defense Minister Benny Gantz called up battalions of additional Border Police to restore order to the streets of municipalities around the country, it appeared that the police were ineffective at stopping the violence Wednesday night.

Israeli politicians slammed the rioters and called for the public to come to order.

“I don’t care if your blood is boiling. So it’s boiling. It’s irrelevant,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening. “You can’t take the law into your own hands. You can’t come to an Arab civilian and try to lynch him, just as we can’t see Arab citizens do so to Jewish citizens. This will not stand.”

Religious Zionism MK Betzalel Smotrich condemned the attack on the Arab driver in Bat Yam, tweeting that he was “shocked and ashamed to the bottom of my soul.”

Referencing the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza, he wrote, “We are in difficult days, under attack, frustrated… but damn it, how can Jews be so cruel?! Terrible.”

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef encouraged Jewish Israelis to act as a positive example to the world, rather than engage in violent behavior.

“Innocent Israeli citizens are being attacked by terrorist organizations, the blood is indeed hot and our hearts are outraged; the scenes are difficult to watch,” said Yosef in a recorded statement. “However, we must not be dragged into provocations and to hurting people or harming property.

“According to the Torah, there is no permission to take the law into one’s hands and act violently. The work of restoring order must be left to the police. We must be a light unto the nations, and not, Heaven forbid, the opposite.”