Muslim Headstones, Synagogues Vandalized in Israeli City as Jewish-Arab Violence Persists

Clashes continue between Jews and Arabs in Israel's mixed cities as Gaza tensions rise ■ In the West Bank, a Palestinian was killed after allegedly attempting to attack Israeli soldiers

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An Israeli man looks inside a synagogue after it was set on fire by Arabs in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, today.
An Israeli man looks inside a synagogue after it was set on fire by Arabs in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, today. Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI - AFP

A number of headstones were defaced in a Muslim cemetery and a synagogue was set ablaze in the city of Lod on Thursday night as clashes between Jews and Arabs continue in mixed cities throughout Israel.

The Muslim cemetery, on the central city's east side, is located close to a former municipal building that is now housing, with the municipality's permission, West Bank settlers who came to secure Lod's Jews. On Friday, a curfew will come into place from 4 P.M. and all non-residents will be barred from entering the city. 

"It's very serious and hurtful and scary, and it's clear that the ones who did this are the people who are here now under the protection of the municipality," said resident Maha al-Naqib, who added that her mother's grave remained unharmed. "They're giving shelter to rioters, to terrorists."

The head of Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, said on Friday the security service won’t tolerate ethnic violence “by Arabs nor by Jews,” adding his agency “will not allow violent lawbreakers to carry out terrorism on the streets of Israel."

Argaman said Shin Bet is working with Israeli police and Border Patrol in those mixed cities. The effort is aimed at identifying, catching and prosecuting “whoever tries to hurt Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs, until peace returns to the streets of the country.”

Several prominent rabbis called non-residents to arrive at Lod and other flash points of violence to defend their Jewish residents, even permitting in a series of religious rulings violating Shabbat in order to do so.

Also Thursday night, the Dossa synagogue complex in the city was set on fire by Arab rioters. Police said that the assailants first torched the door in an attempt to burn down the building, and then about two hours later set a palm tree next to the synagogue on fire. It was significantly damaged in the attack.  

Another synagogue in the city was reportedly fired at overnight, causing damage to its doors, which have been replaced on Friday morning.

Jerusalem, West Bank clashes

In Jerusalem, police said, dozens of Palestinians hurled stones at police near the Temple Mount. They said they used riot dispersal means to push the stone-throwers back into the Temple Mount complex. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported about 100 wounded in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank on Friday.

Israel's military said a Palestinian tried to stab a soldier near the West Bank city of Ramallah. The soldier shot the attacker, who Palestinian health officials reported has died.

The police said Friday afternoon that it will examine footage of officers kicking a civilian car in Umm al-Fahm and firing what seems to be a stun grenade at it from a close range. Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi, who shared the footage on his Twitter account, wrote "Umm al-Fahm: These are police, not La Familia Hooligans, right? But what's the difference," referring to the far-right group.

The police said that they are not familiar with the event. "Despite the long hours and difficult conditions in which officers are working under threat to their lives, we will not allow a deviation from procedure, and these will be examined by the authorities," a police statement said.   

The hostilities have fueled tension between Israeli Jews and the country's 21 percent Arab minority. Violence continued in mixed communities overnight after street fighting and tit-for-tat attacks that prompted Israel's president to warn against a civil war.

"They say Gaza is spiraling out of control, but what is happening here scares me more," said Majd Abado, an Arab resident of the mixed city of Acre, where people from both communities said they were afraid to leave their homes.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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