After days of people peering skyward for danger, whether rockets barreling in toward cities or jets streaking out over the border into Gaza, it suddenly looks as if the most ominous battle might be taking place somewhere else entirely: the streets and sidewalks of Israel.
Gaza militants and Israeli forces have been trading fire for days now, ever since a police raid at a mosque in Jerusalem, built atop a site that is revered by both Muslims and Jews.
However deadly the rockets and missiles may be — and they have killed dozens — their victims cannot see who attacked them. The same cannot not be said of what is now happening on the streets of Israeli cities and towns, where on Wednesday Jewish and Arab mobs set upon cars, shops, offices, hotels and each other.
Many Israelis appeared stunned at the turn of events, at the brutality of the attacks and at the speed at which civil unrest has reshaped the landscape of their country. Others suggested that it might simply be a bill coming due.
For years, some leaders warned that a failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might one day lead to fighting within the state of Israel itself, said Tzipi Livni, a former chief negotiator for Israel in peace talks with the Palestinians.
“And this is exactly what is happening now,” she said. “What was maybe under the surface has now exploded, and created a combination that is really horrific.”
Since Monday’s raid at Al-Aqsa mosque, which the Israeli authorities said was done to rout stone-throwing protesters, over 67 Palestinians and at least six Israeli citizens have died. In response to rockets launched by Hamas militants and their allies from Gaza, Israel launched airstrikes.
Both rocket fire and missile strikes continued on Wednesday, but the attention of the Israeli government seemed to turn increasingly inward, prompted by a series of troubling episodes.
In one seaside suburb south of Tel Aviv, dozens of Jewish extremists took turns beating and kicking man presumed to be Arab, even as he lay motionless on the ground. To the north, in another coastal town, an Arab mob beat a man they thought was Jewish with sticks and rocks, leaving him in a critical condition. Nearby, an Arab mob nearly stabbed to death a man believed to be Jewish.
About 280 people have been arrested on rioting charges across the country, and one city, Lod, in the center of the country, was declared “locked down.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the disturbing street scenes “anarchy” and vowed to restore order to Israel’s cities “with an iron fist if necessary, with all necessary force and with all necessary authority.”
The Aqsa raid might have been the spark, but the fuel was years of anger from…
Go to the news source: Israel-Palestinian Hostilities: Live Updates – The New York Times