Unrest intensifies across Palestinian towns in Israel

Israeli forces detain a group of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the mixed city of Lod, during clashes between Israeli far-right extremists and Palestinians (AFP)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  May 14, 2021

 Protests, shootings and arrests unfold across Palestinian and mixed cities in Israel amid escalation in Gaza.

Protests across Palestinians cities in Israel continued for a fourth night in a row against Israeli attacks on Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, as armed confrontations between Palestinians and ultra-nationalists Israelis erupted once more in several areas.

Thursday’s demonstrations took place in over 20 towns and cities, including Nazareth, Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Tayba and Sakhnin, according to Arab48 news website. 

Tension over the planned forcible expulsion of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem has escalated this week into armed confrontations between Palestinians and far-right Israeli settlers in the mixed city of Lod, called Lydd by Palestinians.

For a third consecutive night, Israeli ultra-nationalists roamed the city’s Palestinian neighbourhoods, where they fired shots towards a mosque, as worshippers prayed, and a number of homes, which led to armed clashes between Palestinians and the mob, Palestinian media has reported.

Three Israelis suspected of shooting dead a Palestinian protester in Lod on Monday night were released on Thursday after prominent Israeli politicians decried their arrests, further stoking anger among Palestinians. A state of emergency and a curfew were declared in the city on Tuesday.

In Ramla, a Palestinian shot and wounded an Israeli police officer, according to the Times of Israel. Earlier Thursday, a physical attack seriously wounded an Israeli soldier in Jaffa. 

Hundreds detained

In Haifa, meanwhile, Israeli police used sound bombs and tear gas to disperse Palestinian protesters and detained at least 30 people, including a 10-year-old boy, while they were gathered in Al-Nabi street to ward off attacks by settlers. 

Settlers riding cars and motorcycles raided Wadi al-Jamal neighbourhood in the coastal city, shooting live rounds and throwing sound bombs towards Palestinian homes, Arab48 reported, citing a local source. Israeli police also shot and wounded an 18-year-old Palestinian, and violently dispersed protesters across the city.

Palestinians formed popular and civil committees in Haifa to “defend Palestinian neighbourhoods”, following repeated assaults by settlers on Palestinians across mixed cities, under the protection of Israeli police. 

Separately, a settler stabbed and moderately wounded a 23-year-old Palestinian near the town of Kafr Manda, in the Lower Galilee.

In Nazareth, police forces raided the home of the Abbas family in the Al-Safara neighbourhood, and confrontations ensued between the police and protesters in the city’s centre, where a number of Palestinians were detained.

At least 374 Palestinians have been arrested across Palestinian cities and towns in Israel in the past 24 hours for taking part in protests, according to Palestinian media.

West Bank

In the early hours of Friday, large protests erupted in around a dozen cities in the occupied West Bank, with Israeli forces using tear gas to disperse the crowds, media reports said.

A number of Palestinians were wounded in Jenin, Tulkarm, and Ramallah in the crackdown, while people reported hearing live ammunition in some cities.

Hundreds of people marched in Nablus and Jenin, chanting patriotic songs and denouncing Israeli police violence against Palestinians. 

The protests come after air strikes on Gaza have killed over 100 people since Israel launched a military operation on the besieged enclave on 10 May. Israel said on Thursday that both its air force and ground troops were attacking the Gaza Strip.

More demonstrations are expected after congregational prayers on Friday against the recent attacks on Palestinians and places of worship, including the highly revered al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.