“I sent my children out of the city because I am afraid”: Arab-Israeli cohabitation shatters in Lod

“I sent my children out of the city because I am afraid”: Arab-Israeli cohabitation shatters in Lod

A synagogue burned, burned vehicles and a growing aggressiveness that is breathed in the streets. For a long time, the city of Lod It was a symbol of the cohabitation between Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel, but this week the coexistence exploded into pieces.

On Monday night, as Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel and thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the so-called “mixed” Israeli cities were the scene of violence.

On Lod, an industrial city where 40% of the population is Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, that is, descendants of the Palestinians who stayed on their lands in 1948 after the creation of the State of Israel, tension soared between young Arabs and groups of Jews extremists.

Mussa Hassuna, a 32-year-old Palestinian father from Israel, was shot dead this week. Images circulating on social media suggest that armed Israeli nationalists who were in a nearby building are responsible for the crime.

On Tuesday night, during his funeral, the situation degenerated. There were burned vehicles, stone-throwing and Molotov cocktails and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared “a state of emergency” in Lod. At the time, Israel was the target of a barrage of projectiles launched from the Gaza Strip to which its army responded with retaliatory bombardments.

A truck burns at the entrance to the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, where a state of emergency was declared following civil unrest. (Photo by Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP). (AHMAD GHARABLI /)

“I’m afraid”

On the pavement strewn with shards of glass, at the foot of a tower of charmless flats, someone burned down a small synagogue. The rubble covers the floor but the books were rescued at the last moment by faithful.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who a few weeks ago was celebrating an ‘iftar’ (meal to break the fast of Ramadan) with the Arab authorities, denounced a “pogrom” perpetrated by “a bloodthirsty Arab crowd”.

“The Arabs are trying to kill us! And because? (…) I have no idea”, says Yoel Frankenburg, 34, at the foot of the synagogue.

“They can say it is because of Al Aqsa [mezquita de la Explanada de las Mezquitas de Jerusalén] or to Gaza (…). I have lived here for 12 years and most of the time without problems ”, added.

“They attacked me, they threw stones at me (…) I sent my children out of town!” to his grandparents’ house, “because I’m scared,” he says. According to him, several Israeli families in the neighborhood hide rifles to protect themselves because “The police do nothing.”

A rabbi inspects the damage inside a burned religious school in the central Israeli city of Lod, near Tel Aviv. (Photo by Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP).

A rabbi inspects the damage inside a burned religious school in the central Israeli city of Lod, near Tel Aviv. (Photo by Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP). (AHMAD GHARABLI /)

The tension has long been contained, estimate the city’s Palestinian citizens, who compare families like Yoel’s to Israeli settlers living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian territories illegally occupied by Israel under international law.

But Lod is not a Palestinian territory but is next to Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv.

“Things began to change about ten years ago, when extremist groups began to settle in the neighborhood”says Wael Abo Sharkh, an Arab inhabitant of the city.

Israeli border police vehicles pass a burned-out car in Lod, near Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021. (Photo: AFP).

Israeli border police vehicles pass a burned-out car in Lod, near Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021. (Photo: AFP). (AHMAD GHARABLI /)

Demographic war

Like Wael, many Palestinian citizens of Lod accuse the mayor’s office of facilitating the implantation of groups of conservative Jews, or “extremists”, to transform the demographic composition of the city.

“We have lived our whole lives with Jews and we have good relations with them”, says 29-year-old Abd al Naqib.

“The problem is the ‘mustawtinin’ [palabra en árabe usada para referirse a los colonos] that come to settle. The aim is to oppress the Arabs and expel them, no matter where, so that Lod becomes a Jewish city ”, Explain.

Before the local court, a hundred Israelis express their support for the Jews arrested for their alleged role in Hassuna’s death.

Meir Layosh, with a semi-automatic weapon on his shoulder, harangues those present while cradling a baby in a stroller.

“We are not violent (…) but we have to protect ourselves from terrorists and anti-Semites. These people don’t want us here, but I have a message for them: we’re going to stay “, dice.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.