Lod mayor calls riots ‘pogrom,’ compares to Kristallnacht, smell of ‘smoke and war’

“It’s really a feeling of war,” said one resident as Arabs torched hundreds of cars and attempted to break into Jewish homes.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Lod Mayor Yair Revivo called Tuesday night for the army to come and restore quiet after two straight days of Arab rioting in the mixed Arab-Jewish city that he and other residents compared to a pogrom and the Nazi-era “Night of Broken Glass” prior to the Holocaust.

“Every minute, a car or a synagogue or a school is going up in flames,” he said. “Our new city hall was broken into and set alight. You don’t understand what’s happening here. This is worse than the missiles from Gaza.”

“This is Kristallnacht in Lod.”

“This is a huge event – an Intifada of Arab Israelis,” he added. “All the [coexistence] work we have done here for years has gone down the drain.”

Interviewed around midnight on Channel 20, Deputy Mayor Yossi Harush noted that an Arab student in a mixed school in the city had sent messages to his friends and family to stay home Tuesday “because they were going to do a pogrom.” This also brought to mind the pre-planned Nazi devastation of German Jewry’s homes and businesses in November 1938.

While praising the local police for doing “superhuman work” trying to confront the rioters, Harush said that it was beyond the ability of the local security forces to restore order, especially when their hands were tied by strict open-fire orders.

“I’ve begged the police commissioner and … Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, to let the police shoot at their lower bodies,” he said. Having lived his whole life in Lod, he said, he had never seen such behavior by the Arab residents, and couldn’t believe what was happening.

Eyewitnesses agreed that the situation was completely out of control.

Lod resident Michal Avraham told Channel 20 that there was “the smell of smoke and war from every direction.” Cars by the dozens were being set on fire, she said, but the streets were blocked off by overturned garbage cans and vehicles, “so that it’s impossible to enter … and put out the flames.”

Being Lod residents, she said the rioters know who and what to hit.

“They know exactly which cars to burn, what to destroy,” she said. “They’re our neighbors… This is a slap in a face, it’s betrayal, and I don’t have the words to describe the disappointment from what’s going on.”

Avraham accused the police of acting like children in face of the danger the residents are facing.

“They’re playing like kids,” she said. “They get close, shoot off a stun grenade, then run back…. The Arabs are coming out of the mosque and are simply going from street to street, and the police reaction is just not serious.”

“It’s really a feeling of war,” she went on, “and we need soldiers here.”

Avraham said she also felt “abandoned” by the government when she saw Arabs outside watching the rockets shot by Hamas going by in the air “and dancing with joy. Where’s the response? Where’s the sovereignty?”

Three Lod residents did fall victim to the rocket barrage Tuesday night when their car was hit – an Arab father and his 16-year-old daughter were killed and the mother was seriously injured.

Uriel, another resident who lived in a mixed Arab-Jewish apartment building, said his newly created fear of his neighbors outweighed his fears of being hit by the rocket barrage that was being aimed at central and southern Israel.

“We don’t go down to the bomb shelter when there’s a siren because it’s more dangerous to go there with the Arabs than to stay home,” he said. “We’ve shut the lights and are being quiet. Police are staying outside the neighborhood, not inside. It’s surreal.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Religious Zionist Party head Betzalel Smotrich had called for a curfew, and for the army to help the police “in dealing with the pogroms in Israel’s cities” in an urgent letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials.

“’We are not talking about ‘disturbances of order,’ this is war in every sense of the word,” he wrote, in part. “The reality is that if there isn’t a curfew on the terrorists, it creates a de-facto curfew for hours upon hours on good Jews, law-abiding citizens, who cannot continue their normal routines.”

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in Lod and Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered Border Police companies into Lod and other mixed Arab-Jewish cities in order to restore order. Netanyahu directed that lawbreakers be dealt with severely.