Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian in the clashes in the city of Lod on Tuesday, DPA via Europa Press / Europa Press
On one side is the neglected Muslim cemetery, where 50-year-old councilor Maha Maqib watched with regret the tombstones broken by vandals the night before. He stands guard alongside a handful of activists from the Arab community. At the other end of Shokolov Street, where there is still a trace of cars burned in previous days of sectarian violence, physics teacher Ayelet Wadler, 44, shepherds a hundred young Jewish ultranationalists. They have come from settler settlements in Benjamin in the West Bank, waving Star of David flags ready to hold their ground.
“My family has been here for more than 400 years.
They won't be able to kick us out.
We are going to resist ”, maintains with determination Maqib, who covers himself with a symbolic veil of respect for the cemetery despite his communist militancy.
"I came to this city 15 years ago, and I had never had problems with the Arabs, but now we have to protect ourselves," explains Wadler, who on Wednesday helped rescue the Torah scrolls, the sacred Hebrew scriptures, from a synagogue. which had been set on fire the day before by extremists.
Both are citizens of Israel and live in Lod, a metropolitan suburb 15 kilometers southeast of Tel Aviv.
The Arab councilor Maha Naqib, before broken headstones on graves of the Muslim cemetery by Jewish vandals, this Friday in Lod.Edward Kaprov
Lod is a gloomy place that no one would want to remember if it weren't for the nearby international airport, which for many years gave its name before it was baptized in memory of David Ben Gurion, founding father of the State of Israel in 1948. At that time it was an Arab city on a fertile plain of orange trees. The original population was driven out by the war after the partition of Palestine under British rule. Today it has about 80,000 inhabitants, of which 80% are Jews. It is one of the so-called mixed Israeli cities in which the unstable coexistence between the two Semitic communities has been blown up this week in the most serious outbreak of sectarian violence in decades.
The Israeli government has ordered the mobilization of reserve units of the border police (militarized corps) following a wave of attacks with knives, shots in the air and lynching attempts that have resulted in dozens of injuries and more than 400 detainees.
No officers are seen on patrol in Lod.
A police platoon guards the school where dozens of Jewish nationalist settlers are going to spend the night.
Another detachment stands guard outside the headquarters of the City Council, whose mayor, the right-wing Yair Revivo, has acknowledged that the local authorities have lost control of the situation.
The state of emergency and a night curfew have been in force since Tuesday.
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Maha Maqib, of the Hadash (communist) party, integrated with Arab forces in the Joint List coalition, accuses Revivo of having promoted “the settlement of radical settlers in Arab neighborhoods to force the population out, as in the historic center of Hebron. (West Bank) ”. Across the street, among dozens of Jewish nationalists mobilized over the weekend in Lod, Ayelet Wadler is alarmed by the presence of young Arab men armed with pistols and gangs who burn vehicles every night. "They are young criminals who are now on the side of their people," Maqib, who flatly rejects violence, had said shortly before. "We have the right to defend ourselves, the police can no longer do more," justified Wadler, also a supporter of peace between the two communities.
Jewish teacher and activist Ayelet Wadler, this Friday in Lod.Edward Kaprov
Two blocks in the direction of the historic center - a bleak scene of rural Islamic architecture that appears to have come to a standstill in 1948 - a party of men has set up on their own what appears to be a checkpoint for vehicles entering a Jewish neighborhood.
“Go on, go on, there has been a small accident, don't worry”, they invite us to continue on the road without hesitation.
At the end of the avenue, already at the bus station, a group of worshipers permanently guard the historic Dahmas Mosque after the Eid el Fitr prayer, on the post-Ramadan holiday.
“We protect it so that it does not burn again like in 1948”, assures Mohamed Qashen, a 34-year-old bus driver, “then around 200 people lost their lives here”.
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Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv; in Acre, in the north of the country, like Um el Fahm and Tamra. Or the emblematic Nazareth, in Galilee, or Jaffa, on the coast. To all mixed cities, including Jerusalem, sectarian hatred has spread like poison without antidote. Also to Haifa, the tolerant and multicultural port city of the north. Three sisters aged 23, 20 and 16 were stoned and beaten in the garage of their home Wednesday afternoon by three dozen Jewish youths. They were the daughters of Wadi Abunasser, honorary consul of Spain in Haifa, a Christian Arab Israeli. "The police came to protect us at dawn, after having ignored all my requests," Abunasser is outraged. "As if they don't consider me a normal citizen of Israel." His voice sounded like deep disappointment on the other end of the phone.