Arab Israelis hold violent protests nationwide; dozens held

Arab Israeli killed amid violent riots by Arab mob in Lod; Jewish suspect held

Two injured, with witnesses saying they were shot during riots in which stones, firebombs thrown at Jewish-owned homes; Arab mob attacks school, synagogue, staff at local hospital

A rabbi inspects the damage inside a religious school in the central Israeli city of Lod, on May 11, 2021. The school was allegedly torched by a mob of local Arab residents on the night of May 10. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)
A rabbi inspects the damage inside a religious school in the central Israeli city of Lod, on May 11, 2021. The school was allegedly torched by a mob of local Arab residents on the night of May 10. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

An Arab Israeli man was shot and killed and two others were wounded during protests and riots by local Arab residents overnight Monday-Tuesday in the central city of Lod. A Jewish suspect in the shooting was arrested.

The violent protest, during which Arab participants raised Palestinian and Hamas flags, called to “liberate Palestine,” and attacked a school, a synagogue, a pre-army military academy and city hall, according to Israel Radio, was one of several large demonstrations in Arab communities.

Reports said the victims were part of a mob throwing stones and firebombs at Jewish-owned homes in the Arab-Jewish city in central Israel and were shot by Jewish residents in what Jewish witnesses said was self-defense. The Arab demonstrators also set fires and tore down street signs.

“It was like Kristallnacht… in a city in central Israel,” a local Jewish resident, Hadar Miller, told Army Radio on Tuesday. She said she and her family have lived in Lod for 12 years and were “proud of the co-existence” in the Jewish-Arab city. But the situation had been deteriorating for months, “and yesterday all the lines were crossed… Now a friend of mine is in detention for defending himself.”

Police officers clash with Arab Israeli rioters, in Ramle in central Israel, on May 10, 2021.(Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Magen David Adom medics evacuated one man, 25, to the nearby Assaf Harofeh hospital, where he was pronounced dead. MDA also took a second man to the hospital, while a third was brought in by family. Both were suffering gunshot wounds.

The mob of local Arab residents also attacked medical staff at Assaf Harofeh, Israel Radio reported, targeting Arab medical staff and castigating them for working there. Medical staff had to evacuate some patients to keep them from the mob, the radio report said.

Police said they were investigating the incidents and later arrested a Jewish resident of the city, 34, on suspicion of being involved in the shooting.

Shlomo Lahyani, a local Jewish resident, said an Arab mob attacked a synagogue and a school, and threw slabs and rocks at Jewish locals during hours of rioting. “They came with murder in their eyes,” he told Israel Radio on Tuesday morning. “They called out, in Hebrew, ‘We are terrorists.'”

He said locals Jews called the police, who did not come to the scene for over an hour. In the meantime, Jewish residents fired shots in the air to try to keep the Arab rioters at bay. Lahyani said he did not witness the fatal confrontation, but was adamant that “lives were in danger.”

“The Arab mob tried to storm our neighborhood,” Lod resident Meir Liush told Ha’aretz. “It took police a long time to arrive. Residents were forced to shoot in the air, but it did not deter them until they shot at them and wounded two of them.”

Fidha Shahadeh, an Arab member of the local council, said the Arab protests were held “in the context” of the violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque and the controversy surrounding imminent evictions at East Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. She initially denied a synagogue had been torched, but later acknowledged that a building with Torah scrolls had been attacked.

A man passes by cars torched after a night of violence between Israeli Arab protesters and Israeli police in the Arab-Jewish town of Lod, central Israel, May 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)

Pictures and video from the city and the neighboring town of Ramle showed cars turned on their sides and set on fire and tires burning in the streets. Shop windows were also broken. One group, chanting, “We will liberate al-Aqsa with blood and fire,” took down an Israeli flag and put up a Palestinian flag in its place.

Also early Tuesday, two Jewish Israeli men were lightly injured when rocks were thrown at their car while driving past the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, medics said.

They were treated for cuts and scrapes after the rocks smashed the windscreen of the car, and were taken to the Haemek hospital for further treatment, MDA said.

Police officers clash with Arab Israeli demonstrators during a protest over tension in Jerusalem, in Ramle in central Israel, on May 10, 2021.(Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The protests in Lod, Ramle and Umm al-Fahm were some of several as Arab Israelis renewed demonstrations in cities and towns across Israel on Monday evening. Some of the protests turned into clashes with police, leading to dozens of arrests.

Arab Israelis have been protesting Israeli policies and actions in Jerusalem, specifically what they deem aggression against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Temple Mount compound.

A man inspects the damage inside a religious Jewish school in the central Israeli city of Lod, on May 11, 2021. The school was allegedly torched by a mob of local Arab residents the previous night. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

Clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at the flashpoint holy site left hundreds wounded Monday.

Thousands demonstrated in Nazareth, Haifa, Shfaram, Segev Shalom and in smaller towns such as Eksal, Kafr Manda, and Nahaf. In Nazareth, some demonstrators shot fireworks; in Haifa, protesters burned trashcans.

According to police, demonstrators threw rocks, launched fireworks, and hurled bottles at the various demonstrations.

In Kafr Kanna, a Jewish Israeli man who entered the town was “violently attacked” by some residents before others ushered him away.

His car was damaged, the Kan public broadcaster reported, based on a video circulating on social media.

The Arab Israeli protests come as Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip fired massive barrages of rockets at Israel on Monday evening and into the night, including seven projectiles that were fired by Hamas toward Jerusalem, in a major escalation of violence from the enclave signaling the possible start of a wider conflict.

The attacks drew Israeli retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza, which killed at least 20 people, including nine minors, according to the Strip’s Hamas-run Health Ministry. The Israel Defense Forces said at least 11 of those killed were members of the Hamas terror group who had launched rockets at Israel.

Palestinian terror groups have tied the attacks to the unrest in Jerusalem connected to both prayer on the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the pending eviction of a number of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Aaron Boxerman and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report

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