By Cnaan Liphshiz
A rocket from Gaza killed a 5-year-old child in the Israeli city of Sderot, bringing Israel’s death toll to seven in its exchanges of fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
In Gaza, 83 people have died, including 14 children, according to Save the Children, an aid group with a Gaza office. In addition, four Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank this week.
Alongside the fighting between Israel and Hamas, several people have been wounded in interethnic clashes that have raged inside Israel between crowds of Arabs and Jews. The fighting appears to be the worst internal Arab-Jewish violence the country has experienced in decades.
Multiple Jews and Arabs were hospitalized with wounds from stabbings and beatings. Across the country, crowds burned and vandalized stores, set fires and clashed with police. On Wednesday night, crowds of Jews marched through cities chanting “Death to Arabs.”
In one incident captured on live TV that prompted shock among Israelis, a crowd of Jews in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam beat an Arab man lying on the ground. The victim is recovering in hospital from serious injuries, and two people were arrested in connection with the beating.
Many of the incidents took place in Arab-Jewish cities where both communities live side by side. More than 400 people were arrested, according to the Times of Israel. The country’s Jewish and Arab leaders have called for an end to the violence.
“I don’t care whatsoever if your blood is boiling, which it is: I don’t care,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “You cannot take the law into your own hands. You cannot come and take a random Arab citizen and to try to lynch them, just like we cannot tolerate Arab citizens doing this to Jewish ones: This will not pass.”
In Lod, a city in Israel’s center with a Jewish and Arab population, a Jewish man was stabbed on his way to synagogue near a mosque, resulting in serious injuries on Thursday. Lod was placed under curfew Wednesday, following such incidents, which followed the burning of synagogues and stores in the city a day earlier. On Tuesday, a Jewish man fired at and killed an Arab one, who appeared to approach the car with about a dozen other men, some of them carrying burning objects. The shooter was arrested.
In Akko, a city with Arab and Jewish residents in Israel’s north, a pregnant Arab woman was severely wounded in riots, resulting in a premature birth. Her baby survived and is receiving treatment. Police have arrested more than 350 people, most of them Arab, in riots in Umm al Fahm; Akko; Jisr a-Zarka; Hadera, Tiberias, Haifa; Lod, Ramle and Jaffa.
A 25-year-old Arab man was stabbed and hospitalized in serious condition in a brawl with Jewish men.
The interethnic violence escalated as the fighting between Israel and Hamas continued. The 5-year-old Israeli boy, Ido Avigal, was killed Wednesday when a rocket entered the window of a barricaded room in the apartment where he lived with his family in Sderot, an embattled city on the Gaza border. His mother was severely wounded from shrapnel and underwent surgery.
An Israeli soldier, Omer Tabib, was killed on Wednesday from an anti-missile rocket launched at the car he was in from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Two other soldiers were wounded.
The current exchange of fire began Sunday. Hamas gave Israel an ultimatum to remove police from parts of Jerusalem following unrest over the pending eviction of Palestinians from a neighborhood in the city’s east. Israel ignored the ultimatum, prompting Hamas to fire hundreds of rockets into Israel amid retaliatory strikes by the Israel Defense Forces. Israel has killed several senior members of Hamas and other militant groups in the strikes.