Nine Cars Torched in Israeli City of Lod, Mayor Blames Arab Residents

Police examining whether the arson was in response to the city’s razing of two buildings constructed illegally

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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Cars set on fire burn in Lod, December 24, 2020.
Cars set on fire burn in Lod, December 24, 2020.Credit: Israel Fire and Rescue Services
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Six cars and three trucks were torched on Wednesday in Lod, and another vehicle and truck were damaged by the heat generated by the fires.

Police and firefighters have opened an investigation. The police said all motives were being looked at, including the possibility that the arson was in response to the city’s razing that day of two buildings put up without permits in the city's Pardes Shnir neighborhood.

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In recent weeks, tensions have risen between the neighborhood’s Arab residents and city authorities over plans to demolish illegally built homes. Residents have held several demonstrations in the past three weeks against the threat to raze the buildings. Tensions spiked recently after the mayor, Yair Revivo, said he’d seek to remove criminal organizations from the city and prevent them from getting city services. Revivo has alleged that the arson was motivated by nationalism – phrasing commonly used by officials to describe attacks by Arabs targeting Jews – and sought Shin Bet involvement in the investigation.

Fahridin Shariya, a city resident, told Haaretz that “the situation is very difficult. This is the third week of our protest. The mayor says he’s a lawyer, he takes pride in understanding the law and having studied it. How he can determine what happened without any facts that the perpetrators were an Arab and it’s a nationalist incident?

“Why does he decide on his own that the Shin Bet should get involved?" he asked. "I would be happy to see the Shin Bet involved in more important matters, in solving the cases of murders in the city that the police haven’t solved."

The Abraham Initiatives NGO, an organization that works to promote equality between Jews and Arabs, said following Revivo's claim: "We must not smear the entire Arab public. Elected officials, the mayor in particular, must work hand-in-hand with Arab society and its leaders in order to increase personal security for all city residents. There are acts committed by criminals who do whatever they pleased, who acted to avenge the demolition of illegal construction in the city. Whether the victims of the acts are Jews or Arabs, law enforcement agencies are expected to act with the same determination to eradicate violence and enforce order."