Violence raged through the streets of Israel on Wednesday evening, with rival Arab and Jewish mobs beating and torching cars in a wave of community unrest.
As the conflict with Palestinian militants in Gaza escalated and the death toll rose to at least 90, political leaders in Israel called for an end to “lawlessness” on the streets of ethnic towns. mixed across the country.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to restore order “with an iron fist if necessary” after nights of violence.
“I don’t care if your blood is boiling. You cannot take the law into your own hands, ”he said.
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At least 83 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed as the IDF and militant group Hamas continue to exchange barrages of airstrikes and rocket attacks, officials on both sides said.
Israel prepared combat troops along the Gaza border and was in “various stages of preparation for ground operations,” a military spokesman said according to Reuters.
“The Chief of Staff is inspecting these preparations and providing advice,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
Meanwhile, unrest that has been brewing for days in Israel has erupted.
In Lod, near Tel Aviv, groups of Jews and Arabs ignored a nighttime curfew and fought in the streets, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.
Two people were shot dead and an Israeli Jew was stabbed there, police said.
In Bat Yam, an Israeli mob pulled an Arab motorist from his car and attacked him, leaving him in serious condition.
In the occupied West Bank, the IDF said it thwarted a Palestinian shooting that injured two people, according to the Associated Press. The Palestinian health ministry said the suspected gunman was killed. No details were immediately available, the AP said.
Domestic violence was among the worst since the Palestinian intifada of 2000, as international figures warned that the conflict between Israel and Gaza risked escalating into all-out war.
In an appeal with Netanyahu on Wednesday, President Joe Biden expressed his “unwavering support for Israel’s security and Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians,” according to a statement from the White House.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and “condemned the rocket attacks and stressed the need to defuse tensions and end the current violence,” a statement said.
Washington was sending a high-ranking diplomat to the region to try to ease tensions.
The current tensions have their roots in East Jerusalem, where unrest has escalated over plans to evict Palestinian families from a neighborhood in East Jerusalem whose land is claimed by Jewish settlers.
This escalated on Monday when Palestinians said Israeli police raided the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and used stun grenades and rubber bullets against worshipers. Israeli officials said the Palestinians were throwing stones at their forces and at the Western Wall, where thousands of Jews had gathered to pray.
Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, called on Israel to withdraw its security forces before firing rocket rounds that as of Thursday morning numbered more than 1,500, Israeli officials said. Six Israelis were killed in Lod, Ashkleon and Rishon Lezion, officials said.
Israel responded by launching airstrikes on Gaza, a small impoverished enclave blocked by Israel and Egypt and home to 2 million Palestinians.
At least 83 people, including 17 children, were killed in the Israeli bombardment according to the Gaza health ministry. Israel says it has targeted Hamas-related sites, which it and the United States classifies as a terrorist organization, and that it was trying to minimize civilian casualties.
Alexander Smith reported from London and Paul Goldman and Lawahez Jabari reported from Tel Aviv. The Associated Press contributed to this report.