Rivlin Condemns 'Pogrom' by Israeli Arabs as Police Announce Curfew on Lod

Police announce 48-hour curfew after attacks and violent clashes in the central city of Lod and across Israel

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Torah scrolls removed from a synagogue torched during violent confrontations in Lod, today.
Torah scrolls removed from a synagogue torched during violent confrontations in Lod, today.Credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israel Police announced on Wednesday a nighttime curfew in the central city of Lod following protests that spilled into attacks and violent clashes between Jews and Arabs on Tuesday night.

The curfew, in effect from 8 P.M. until Thursday at 4 A.M., restricts all residents to their homes and bars the entry of non-residents.

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Earlier on Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin harshly condemned Tuesday's "pogrom" and riots "by an Arab mob," and was critical of what he called "the silence of Arab leaders" in Israel on the events.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the incidents are reminiscent of "sights from our people's past, and we cannot accept that." During a visit in the northern city of Acre, where businesses were torched the night before, he vowed to "stop anarchy" and "bring back sovereignty to Israel's cities with an iron fist if necessary."

Israel declared on Tuesday night a state of emergency in Lod, a mixed Arab-Jewish city that saw a series of serious incidents throughout the day, in a bid to quell the violence that wounded 12, including one in serious condition.

Border Police forces during a protest in Jaffa, on Tuesday.Credit: Hadas Parush

Five hundred Border Police officers have been placed in the city, and non-residents will not be allowed to enter the city. Police believe people who are not residents of Lod were involved in some of the rioting. 

"The sight of the pogrom in Lod and disturbances across the country by an incited and bloodthirsty Arab mob... is unforgiveable," Rivlin said, a day after a synagogue and 30 cars and a bus were set on fire in the city.

An Israeli flag replaced by Lod protesters with a Palestinian one "is a brutal assault on shared existence in the State of Israel," Rivlin added.

The president also criticized Israeli Arab leaders for their "shameful" silence on the violence, which he claims encourages "terrorism and rioting." Several Arab Knesset members, most prominently Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, United Arab List leader Mansour Abbas, and Meretz lawmakers Esawi Freige and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, called on citizens to refrain from violence and attacks on innocent civilians.

A Tuesday funeral for an Arab resident of Lod, who was killed the night before by armed Jewish residents who claimed self-defense against "rioters," spilled into violence amid clashes across the country following fatal Israeli air strikes in Gaza and mass injuries to Palestinian protesters on Jerusalem's Temple Mount over the past days, adding to deep-rooted mistrust between Israeli police and the Arab community.

A restaurant torched in Acre, on Tuesday.Credit: Rami Shllush

Some 200 masked protesters gathered outside the Lod municipality building, where they burned trash cans and hurled stones and fireworks at police. In Ramle, a mixed Jewish-Arab city adjacent to Lod, a number of synagogues were vandalized by rioters and a Muslim cemetery was set on fire.

The state of emergency declared in Lod, in a rare move, transfers control over the city to the police, granting Commissioner Kobi Shabtai broad powers and the authority to impose nighttime curfew.

By law, a state of emergency can be declared for 48 hours and could be extended by up to five additional days.

Police sent reinforcements to Lod on Wednesday, with some 250 police officers deployed in the streets since the morning, hours after Netanyahu had visited the city.

Speaking in Acre alongside Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, Police Commissioner Shabtai and Mayor Shimon Lankri, Netanyahu said cities and towns where police presence was beefed up – most Arab localities or mixed Arab-Jewish ones – "are now controlled by police in a way they weren't before, and that's important."

Netanyahu added he sought to give police emergency powers, even though "there was some fighting about it, but we've solved that legal issue."

"The first thing we want to do is stop this wave of riots," Netanyahu said. "I call on all public leaders… to condemn and act to stop it in any way possible."

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