Israel has declared a state of emergency in the Jewish-Arab city of Lod following fierce rioting throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Border police units have been deployed to quell the violence as riots resulted in burning of three synagogues and dozens of cars. In another development, more than 200 rockets were seen pounding Israel throughout the night as there was attack by Hamas and counter attack by IDF.
Justifying the decision to declare emergency, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after visiting Lod: "We will not tolerate this; we need to restore calm. If this isn't an emergency situation, I don't know what is. We're talking about life and death here." Following riots, 20 residents of Ramle and Lod were arrested on Tuesday night.
Explaining the gravity of the situation, Lod Mayor Yair Revivo said the administration has lost control of the city and the streets. Reports claim that the country has not experienced this kind of violence since October 2000. PM Netanyahu has directed security forces to respond harshly to violent protesters who threaten public security.
"We've gotten to a place where we have to treat criminals harshly, cool things down and maintain social order," said Defense Minister Benny Gantz. All these measures are being taken after Maoz yeshiva in the mixed Jewish-Arab Ramat Eshkol neighborhood was firebombed on Tuesday night. The bombing led to the death of two people and damage to the façade of the building. A synagogue was set on fire and numerous cars belonging to Jewish residents were torched.
Reason Behind Lod Riots
The situation turned tense when around 200 Arab residents staged a protest in Lod on Monday night declaring their solidarity with Palestinians in east Jerusalem and Gaza. The protests were not peaceful as they expressed their anger by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails while marching toward the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Eskhol. Protesters also launched fireworks at police buildings and set trash cans and tires on fire.
A 33-year-old Lod resident, Musa Malakh Hassuna, was shot dead during the riots on Hahashmonaim Street in Lod. Two people were severely injured. The situation turned worse during the funeral of Hassuna, where protesters clashed with police.
The main reason for the Monday protest was the development in Sheikh Jarrah region in East Jerusalem. Israel is forcibly evicting Palestinians and refugees from Sheikh Jarrah, who have settled there since nearly 70 years. Israelis are claiming that it is their land and Palestinians claim it as a part of their homeland. The Israel High Court order supporting the eviction of Palestinians from their houses in Sheikh Jarrah have led to severe criticism world-wide. People all over the world are trending terms like save Palestine and save Sheikh Jarrah opposing Israel's decision of forcible eviction.
Hamas Role in Riots
Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement formed with an aim to liberate Palestine from the Israeli occupation, claims that it will fight to transform the country [Palestine] into an Islamic state. Following Israel High Court's eviction order, Hamas had warned of attack on Israeli regions. Accordingly, Hamas is said to have fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel from the Gaza Strip from Monday night to Tuesday morning.
On May 12, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for firing over 100 rockets each at Tel Aviv and Beersheba. Hamas is said to have fired nearly 1,000 rockets into Israel since Monday. Palestinians have claimed that at least 35 people have died since the riots began from Monday.
Israel Defense Forces [IDF] stated that it conducted retaliatory strikes on nearly 130 targets in the Gaza Strip. IDF also said that home of a top Hamas commander and Hamas intelligence headquarters have been attacked. It claimed that at least 15 Hamas members involved in launching rockets at Israel have been killed.
According to IDF, it has eliminated senior Hamas officials, including Bassam Issa, the Gaza Brigade commander, Rafa Salama, the Khan Younis Brigade commander and Mohammed Yazouri, the Hamas intelligence commander.
Reacting to Hamas attack, PM Nethanyahu said: "Hamas and Islamic Jihad have paid and will continue to pay. We are all mourning those killed and praying for those who were injured. We all give our full support to the IDF and Israeli security forces. This campaign will take time." Defence Minister Gantz said that Israel has the right and the obligation to act and will continue to do so.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has said that Israel had ignited fire in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and the flames extended to Gaza, therefore, it [Israel] was responsible for the consequences.