Israel’s political leaders have said that violent street clashes between Jews and Arabs within the country pose a greater threat than the escalation of the military conflict with Gaza.
The country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the city of Lod, where there have been riots, burning of cars, destruction of property and violent attacks on people.
“We have no greater threat now than these pogroms, and we have no choice but to restore law and order through the determined use of force,” he said. In a previous statement, he said the country was fighting a battle “on two fronts.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said “a civil war [would] be a danger to our existence, more than all the dangers that we have from the outside. “
Intercommunal violence, including beatings, stabbings, shootings and arson, has been reported across the country, from Beersheva in the southern Negev to Tiberias and Haifa in the north.
More than 400 people have been arrested and border police have been relocated from the occupied West Bank to cities within Israel. “We are in an emergency, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said there had been a “total loss of control.” He accused Netanyahu of “leading us to anarchy.”
“Jewish and Arab rioters have declared war on Israel and there is no response, there is no government, there is no police, there is no leadership,” he said.
Lod was closed from Thursday afternoon and a curfew was imposed overnight. Netanyahu said that people involved in clashes could be detained indefinitely without charge, a practice known as administrative detention.
As the authorities struggled to gain control, thousands of Israeli troops were deployed to the Gaza border. Military plans for a possible ground operation in Hamas-controlled territory were expected to be presented to political leaders on Thursday night.
The Israeli army told its forces to “prepare for battle.” He called in 7,000 reservists and canceled the license for all combat units.
Both sides continued to fire rockets and missiles throughout the day. In Gaza, shops, restaurants and parks that would normally be crowded for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr were deserted.
The Israeli army said it had reached a main command center where dozens of Hamas operatives were conducting surveillance, and four apartments from which senior commanders were leading rocket attacks.
Hamas said it had launched a series of “suicide drones” in southern Israel. Drones fixate on targets before dropping explosives. Warning sirens sounded almost continuously throughout the day in southern Israeli cities as Palestinian militants fired hundreds of rockets.
More than 80 people, including at least 17 children, have died in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry. In Israel, seven people, including two children, died.
More than 1,600 rockets have been fired from Gaza since Monday, according to the Israeli military. He said that a third had fallen inside Gaza and that the Israeli defense system Iron Dome has intercepted most of the rest.
British Airways joined several US and European airlines in suspending flights to Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv due to concerns about rocket fire from Gaza.
“The safety and security of our colleagues and clients is always our top priority, and we continue to monitor the situation closely,” said BA. Israel redirected some flights to Ramon airport, near the Red Sea town of Eilat.
Abu-Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, claimed that an Ayyash rocket with a range of 250 km had been launched towards Ramon airport. The local council said a rocket had landed in the area.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and UN Secretary General António Guterres jointly called for an end to the fighting.
“The main task is to stop the violent actions on both sides and to ensure the safety of the civilian population,” the Kremlin said in a statement after a video call with Guterres.
Israel had rejected a Hamas proposal for a ceasefire, Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet on Wednesday night. The offer of a truce had been made through the Russian Foreign Ministry, which quoted a senior Hamas official as saying the Islamist group was willing to stop the attacks on a “mutual basis.” Ynetnews reported.
In the Old City of Jerusalem, tens of thousands of worshipers gathered at the al-Aqsa Mosque at dawn to commemorate Eid al-Fitr. Some waved Palestinian flags and a banner displaying an image of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
The streets of the old port of Jaffa were practically empty. Sally Abed, a member of Standing Together, an Arab-Jewish social movement, said that local residents have felt increasingly threatened by groups of Jewish settlers who have tried to buy houses or evict Palestinians from their homes as part of a nationalist effort to take over the neighborhood. .
The gentrification of the area had a “taste of ethnic cleansing,” he said. When residents protested, the police responded with excessive force, he added.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism