Conflict Expands into Widespread Rioting

EVENING UPDATE

Hamas claim to have fired large volleys of rockets towards Tel Aviv and Beersheba on Thursday afternoon, in revenge for the deaths of its commanders in Israeli airstrikes this week. But their claims to have fired as many as 100 rockets were contradicted by the IDF, who said the number was between 25 and 30.

There was just one report of a light injury from shrapnel and another couple of injuries incurred as people ran to bomb shelters.

In response to the rocket fire, the IDF struck more Hamas targets in Gaza, including an intelligence facility with dozens of terrorists inside. It seems highly likely that Hamas are understating their casualties.

In the political arena, American President, Joe Biden, phoned Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday and is quoted as saying:

“My expectation and hope are that this will be closing down sooner than later,
but Israel has a right to defend itself
when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory."

And Naftali Bennett, leader of the Yamina party, has decided not to continue negotiations to form a government that includes the Arab Ra`am party, because the recent violence between Arabs and Jews in mixed cities makes this inappropriate.

 

MORNING REPORT

As the conflict continues, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) say they have hit more than 650 Hamas targets, such as buildings belonging to commanders, police, the Interior Ministry, a naval commando unit and a defensive tunnel inside a school. Three high-rise buildings have been destroyed in the Israeli airstrikes and the IDF say around 60 Hamas operatives have been killed, including 10 senior commanders.

 

Airstrike in south of the Gaza Strip (photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)Airstrike in south Gaza Strip 12th May (photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

 

Hamas’ Health Ministry in Gaza says 83 people have died in the conflict, including 17 children, and 487 have been wounded. The IDF says that some of those casualties were caused by terrorist rockets that failed to reach Israel and fell short in the Gaza Strip.

More than 80 rockets have been fired into Israel again this morning, but the IDF have claimed success in striking three terrorist cells that were preparing to fire anti-tank guided missiles. Another such cell killed an Israeli soldier and wounded two others yesterday, when they hit their jeep with a similar missile just north of the Gaza Strip.

WIDESPREAD RIOTING

However, added to the military conflict, widespread rioting has broken out around Israel. One group of Arab rioters set fire to vehicles in the parking lot of a building occupied by ultra-Orthodox families in the early hours of the morning. Being asleep at the time, some 60 people needed treatment for smoke inhalation, many of them children.

A resident of the city of Lod was stabbed by a group of Arabs this morning while on his way to the car. They shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they beat and stabbed him. His wife says he is currently stable in hospital and doing okay.

Another man who was attacked by Arabs in Acre last night was a school teacher who went out looking for his students to stop them from participating in the violence. Doctors at the Galilee Medical Centre say his condition has improved but he is still sedated and on a ventilator.

 

Car set on fire in riotingCar set on fire in the rioting 12th May (photo: Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

 

But the rioting is not one-sided and Israeli leaders have been dismayed by some incidents of Jews attacking Arabs. The Times of Israel reports that perhaps the most shocking was one in which hundreds of Jewish extremists in Bat Yam vandalised Arab property and then attacked an Arab driver, dragging him from his car and beating him savagely.

Benjamin Netanyahu voiced the opinion of most politicians when he declared such incidents were intolerable, saying:

“I don’t care if your blood is boiling. So it’s boiling. It’s irrelevant.
You can’t take the law into your own hands.
You can’t come to an Arab civilian and try to lynch him,
just as we can’t see Arab citizens do so to Jewish citizens.”

And Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef implored Jews not to turn violent against Arabs, saying:

“Innocent Israeli civilians are attacked by terror organizations,
the blood runs hot and our hearts are outraged, the scenes are difficult to watch.
But we mustn’t be dragged to provocations and to hurting people or harming property
… The work of restoring order must be left to police.
We must be a light unto the nations, and not, God forbid, the opposite.”

Israeli police in the Northern District said that 82 people were arrested overnight, taking the total number held since Monday to 232, including some aged 13 and 14.

Two of the main incidents in the north on Wednesday night were rioting and destruction of businesses by Jewish gangs in Tiberias, as well as rioting and destruction of property in the Arab town of Kafr Kanna.