'Once you're marked, your whole life is under surveillance'

Lod mayor threatens to report Arab councilor to Shin Bet security service

Fida Shehade claims municipality neglecting safety of Arab residents; Mayor Yair Revivo: ‘Stop inciting. We have had enough already’; city files police complaint against her

Lod Mayor Yair Revivo voting at a polling station in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod when he was running for mayor, October 22, 2013. (Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)
Lod Mayor Yair Revivo voting at a polling station in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod when he was running for mayor, October 22, 2013. (Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)

With violent tensions between in Lod having calmed after two weeks of unrest, the central city’s mayor on Sunday threatened to report an Arab Israeli councilor to the Shin Bet security service, claiming she was inciting a resumption of violence.

Fida Shehade, a representative for the independent local Arab Israeli al-Nahda party, had posted on social media complaining that municipality workers took down a tarpaulin hung around her father’s property to protect it from attacks, and said that the city was neglecting the safety of its Arab residents.

Mayor Yair Revivo responded to Shehade publicly, writing: “Fida, stop inciting. We have had enough already. We are trying to calm things down and you are lighting a fire.”

He warned, “If you do not stop, I will submit your name to the Shin Bet,” threatening that “once you are marked there, your whole life is under their surveillance. Therefore, I suggest that you stop the incitement, stop the violent discourse; it could be dangerous.”

Cars in a Jewish neighborhood of Lod burned during riots in the mixed city, May 18 2021 (courtesy HaShomer Hachadash)

The past weeks saw escalating ethnic tensions between Jews and Arabs inside Israeli cities alongside the armed conflict with Gaza terror groups. Lod suffered the worst rioting, with two people, one Arab and one Jewish, killed in separate incidents and dozens injured, many of them seriously.

Lod councilor Fida Shehada. (Facebook)

Responding to Revivo, Shehade said in a Sunday statement, “My parents’ house was attacked three times in incidents involving rock-throwing. In response, my father decided to erect a tarpaulin higher than the walls around the house and also brought the cars in [to the property] because three had already been damaged in the incidents.

“On Friday morning, the municipal worker arrived with demolition orders for the tarpaulin, so I wrote a post saying that the municipality has not provided any services in Arab society for a week and then they came to me with demolition orders,” she said.

Photos posted by Lod councilor Fida Shehade of tarpaulin hung around her parent’s property and a demolition order from the municipality. (Screen capture: Facebook)

Responding to Shehade’s claims, the Lod municipality said in a statement that the councilor’s family had “taken over public space and fenced it off without a permit.” and that she was “trying to provoke a negative discourse.”

The statement further said that Shehade “has incited many in the last two weeks to ignite the nationalist discourse, while identifying herself as a ‘proud Palestinian.'”

The city said it had filed complaints against her with the police.

“In recent days, the atmosphere in the city has calmed down and Mayor Yair Revivo and most of the local leadership are working to promote a tolerant and respectful dialogue between the residents,” the statement added.

On Saturday, police chief Kobi Shabtai told top officers that Jewish-Arab violence could still erupt in the coming days despite the apparent end of the Gaza campaign, and has said increased police presence in problem areas will continue.

Israeli police seen on the streets of the central Israeli city of Lod, where synagogues and cars were torched as well as shops damaged, as Arab residents rioted in the city on May 12, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

“The end of the military campaign does not mean the campaign within the country is over,” Channel 12 news quoted Shabtai as telling police officials in an internal discussion. “We could see attempts to heat things up again, as occurred in the Temple Mount yesterday.”

Police came under heavy criticism for failing to control the Arab and Jewish rioting within mixed cities for long days — most notably in Lod — leading to the callup of additional forces, including Border Police reservists.

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