Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared a state of emergency in the central city of Lod, after rioting by Israeli Arabs, as conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants intensified.
Netanyahu’s statement came after an Israeli Arab was killed during unrest a day earlier. Lod is a city of 77,000 people, including 47,000 Jewish Israelis and 23,000 Arab Israelis.
According to local media, a total of 12 people suffered injuries during Tuesday’s clashes on the city’s streets.
“All of Israel should know, this is a complete loss of control,” Lod Mayor Yair Revivo was quoted as saying by the Times of Israel. “Civil war has erupted in Lod.”
The Israeli newspaper also said this was the first time the government had used emergency powers over an Arab community since 1966.
There has also been unrest in other cities with a large Israeli Arab population, as well as in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
On Tuesday Hamas, which controls the Palestinian territory, and the Israeli army traded their heaviest fire for several years, with rockets fired at Tel Aviv after an Israeli strike destroyed a tower block in Gaza. Hamas said the tower block had been a residential building. AFP reporters said it also houses offices of several Hamas officials.
At least 35 Palestinians, including 10 children, and five Israelis have been killed in the violence so far, according to health officials.
The fighting came after weeks of rising tensions that were stoked by violent confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Nightly clashes since then at the compound, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews, and elsewhere in east Jerusalem have left at least 700 Palestinians injured.
The international community has urged both sides to end the escalation. The UN’s Middle East peace envoy, Tor Wennesland, said they were “escalating towards a full-scale war”. The UN Security Council was set to discuss the violence at an emergency meeting on Wednesday.
Israeli bombardment of Gaza continued on Thursday as the Palestinian territory observed Eid al-Fitr, one of the holiest occasions in the Islamic calendar. At least 69 people have been reported killed in the Israeli operation, while almost 400 were injured, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said.
The Israeli army said about 1,500 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards various locations in Israel. At least seven Israelis, including one child, have also been killed.
With reporting by the Times of Israel, AFP, BBC