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Mixed City Pays Price of Israel-Palestinian Showdown

Mixed City Pays Price of Israel-Palestinian Showdown

Thursday, 13 May, 2021 - 06:45
A truck burns at the entrance to the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod in central Israel - AFP

A synagogue with charred walls and incinerated cars testified Wednesday to a breakdown of Arab-Jewish coexistence in the mixed city of Lod against the backdrop of the latest Israeli-Palestinian showdown.

For a long time, Jews and Arabs lived together in Lod. This week, everything fell apart.

On Monday night, as Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups in Gaza fired hundreds of rockets into the skies over Israel and Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, violence swept mixed cities of central Israel.

In Lod, an industrial city with rows of beige and grey homes with barred windows, where 40 percent of the population is Arab, groups of Arabs and Jews have confronted each other.

Mussa Hassuna, a 32-year-old father, was shot and killed in the clashes, AFP reported.

At his funeral on Tuesday, protesters torched cars, and hurled stones and Molotov cocktails.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a "state of emergency" in Lod, at a time when Israel was being targeted by a deluge of rockets from Gaza and carrying out deadly air strikes on the Palestinian enclave.

A small synagogue was set ablaze, its windows blackened by flames.

Outside the synagogue, Yoel Frankenburg, 34, remains furious.

"The Arabs are trying to kill us! And why they want to kill us I have no idea!" he claimed.

"I've been living here for 12 years and most of the time I've been a good neighbor.

"They attacked me, they threw stones at me... I had to send my (five) children out of town," to their grandparents.

He said several Jewish families had their guns ready, because "the police do nothing".

- 'Things have changed' -

Arabs say families like Yoel's are no different than the Jewish nationalists who settle in the occupied West Bank.

"Things started to change about 10 years ago, when extremist groups began to move into the neighborhood," said Wael Abo Sharkh, an Arab resident.

"As soon as these extremists started to arrive, things changed," and Arab youths have reacted against the transformation of their city, he said.

Many of Lod's Arab citizens accuse the mayor's office of facilitating the influx of "extremist" Jews.

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