Israel is recovering from the worst infiltration of communal violence in years as western and regional powers intensify diplomatic efforts to end the conflict between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces.
Violence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arab minorities is raging in many Israeli towns, shaking the country to its core, opening up a domestic front, and provoking a force. response from prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The rare outbreak of communal violence among Israeli citizens came as fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls the congested Gaza Strip, began on its fourth day.
Israel said three rockets were fired at northern Israel from Lebanon on Thursday, pointing to the danger of another opening up front. The Israeli military said the rockets landed in the Mediterranean, with no damage.
It is unclear who launched the rockets and Israel’s northern border with Lebanon has been quiet in recent months. Lebanon is home to Hezbollah, the powerful Iranian-backed movement that fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, as well as Palestinian refugees and militants.
A Lebanese army official said the status of the rockets was unclear. He dismissed local media reports that Palestinians had been arrested.
Lebanon’s UN peacekeeping force, Unifil, said Maj Gen Stefano Del Col, the head of its mission, spoke to the Lebanese army and the Israel Defense Forces to encourage escalation following the latest rocket attack. A spokesman for Hezbollah did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The attack came as Israel continued several air strikes against Palestinian militants in Gaza, raising the number of Palestinian deaths to 103, including 38 women and children, according to health officials. in Palestinian. A total of 580 were injured.
Hamas fired salvos of rockets away from Israel on Thursday, causing Israeli authorities to reroute international flights from Tel Aviv. Militants killed seven Israelis this week, including a soldier and a child.
Israel deployed additional troops – including two infantry brigades and an armored one – near the Gaza border and called in 9,000 more reservists on Thursday. But the military said it had not made a decision on whether to launch an invasion on the ground.
Non-stop violence, Egyptian officials are trying to prevent a ceasefire, a western diplomat said. Hady Amr, the chief official of the U.S. state department on Israeli and Palestinian affairs, is also on his way to Israel as part of the Biden administration’s attempts to exacerbate the crisis.
Antony Blinken, the U.S. defense secretary, told reporters on Thursday that the U.S. is intensifying efforts “to attack escalation and end violence.”
His comments followed statements from Joe Biden, who said he had not yet seen “a significant overreaction” on the part of Israel when asked if Netanyahu had done anything to stop the growth.
“The question is how… Did they get to a point where there was a significant reduction in attacks, especially rocket attacks indiscriminately fired at population centers,” he said. by Biden.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and UN secretary-general António Guterres also called for an end to the fighting on Thursday.
But the western diplomat said Israel had previously rejected efforts by Egypt, which divides the borders between Israel and Gaza, to stop the fighting.
With the death toll rising, there was a riot in Israel’s mixed towns on Wednesday night, with Arabs and Jews clashing and rioting.
The Arab-Israeli conflict has been particularly strong in a decade dominated by fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian factions in occupied territories, but communal violence adds to a dynamic risk, holding back government pressure. in Israel.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz called on border police reserves, saying they needed “vigorous reinforcement” to prevent riots from erupting as tensions rise in towns with Arab populations. and Jew.
Israeli Arabs account for about one-fifth of the state’s Jewish population, carry Israeli passports and vote in the country’s elections. But they complained about institutional and social discrimination and their sympathy for the Palestinian cause caused them to be targeted for righteous politicians.
Groups of upright Jews took to the streets of Arab neighborhoods, including in Lod, Haifa, Acre and Jaffa, where they nearly killed a man they believed to be an Arab. The incident was caught on a live news broadcast.
Arab protesters also took to the streets, causing confrontations with Jews. Yair Revivo, the mayor of Lod, where most of the violence took place, likened it to a “civil war”.
Speaking in Lod on Thursday night, Netanyahu vowed that the security services, in collaboration with the domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet, would be given a free hand to use force to prevent unrest, promising them that no penalty from “commissions of inspections, checks and checks. ”
“You have support, don’t worry,” he said. “To stop the rioters you have to use a lot of energy, a lot of energy.”
He said he was considering approving the use of administrative detention, which is commonly used in the occupied West Bank to detain Palestinians for long periods without access to lawyers, and to bring in the army.
“The intelligence we have says it could be good that we have an outbreak of violence here in the coming days,” he said. “Right now we’re no more at risk than these riots.”
Communal violence underscores the religious tension that sparked this fight. Weeks of standoff continued between Palestinians and Israeli riot police in the compound of al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
Israeli police raided the compound, sacred to both religions, at least three times in the past week, using rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. At least 600 Palestinians were injured.
Hamas stepped up to the riot on Monday, firing long-range rockets after the first demand by Jews living in East Jerusalem to stop harassing Arab residents awaiting eviction orders from Israeli courts. Israel has responded to hundreds of air strikes in Gaza, including 600 Hamas military targets, according to the Israeli military.