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Religious violence spreads across Israel as Gaza airstrikes toll rises

Bat Yam, Israel – religious violence that has looked like nothing in decades spread across Israel. CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab reports that Jewish and Arab neighbors who have lived side by side for generations have started to turn around.

On Wednesday evening, an Arab-Israeli man was pulled from his car in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam and beaten unconscious by dozens of far-right Jewish Israelis.

The brutal attack, described as a “lynching” by the Israeli media, was broadcast live on television. He was condemned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s chief rabbi.

“I think it’s unlike anything I’ve seen, and I’ve lived here for 24 years,” Tel Aviv resident Dahlia Scheindlin told CBS News. “I just want to point out that we are all Israelis, therefore Jews, Arabs – we are all Israelis.”

Violence escalates in Israel-Gaza conflict


Images of a horribly similar scene were posted on social media in Acre, northern Israel, showing an Israeli Jew being allegedly attacked by a group of young Palestinian Arabs.

“We had a nightmare of one night, a real riot of hundreds of young Arabs,” said Avraham Sagron, the rabbi of a nearby synagogue. “They came in droves, torched car after car, trash cans, smashed windows and it was really dangerous to leave the house.”

People, houses, businesses and places of worship were all targeted.

Just days ago, the violence sweeping through towns and cities with mixed populations of Jews and Arabs was unthinkable, but fear now across the region is that there may be much more to come.

Nowhere is the nightmare more vivid than in the Gaza Strip. The tiny, densely populated Palestinian territory controlled by the Hamas group was hit by Israeli airstrikes for four days.

The strikes are wreaking havoc, as the military wing of Hamas and other Palestinian groups continue to fire rockets at Israel. More than 1,000 people were released on Wednesday evening alone.

Israeli strikes kill Hamas commanders


Since Monday, more than 80 Palestinians have been killed, including 17 children, according to the Gaza health ministry. Israel says many of those killed were Palestinian militants. Seven Israelis have died in the tit-for-tat war so far, including one soldier.

The IDF said two infantry units and one armored unit had been dispatched to the Gaza border, and plans for a notional land incursion had been prepared and could be submitted to military leaders for consideration as early as Thursday. Such an invasion would require the approval of Netanyahu’s government and mark an extremely controversial escalation of the conflict.

But with growing calls from the United States and other countries to withdraw from cross-border hostilities, it is the widespread civil unrest inside Israel that causes the most immediate concern in the region, fueling fears that the The decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict may have moved into deeply dangerous new territory.

There was, however, a merciful calm Thursday morning at one flashpoint in particular – the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, where this latest wave of violence began.

Thousands of Muslims offered Eid prayers there on Thursday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. There were no reports of violence, but the normally joyous celebration was undeniably eventful.

Threat to air travel

There was yet another ominous sign on Thursday that the tension and violence could get worse before it gets better. Hamas’s armed wing in Gaza has warned that civilian flights to and from Israel should be halted, as they could be hit by the group’s rockets.

“We call on international airlines to stop their flights to Israel,” a spokesperson for the al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement posted on the group’s website. “We are telling the enemy that all of your airports, and every point north to south of Palestine, are within range of our missiles.”

Religious violence spreads across Israel as Gaza airstrikes toll rises
Trails of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, seen from Ashkelon, Israel on May 10, 2021.


Already, the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority had diverted all inbound passenger flights bound for Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel’s main air hub, to the secondary airport called Ramon. But the Qassam Brigades claimed to have specifically targeted Ramon Airport on Thursday, and there have been reports in Israeli media that a rocket landed about 7 miles away.

Spokesmen for United Airlines and American Airlines told French news agency AFP that they had already canceled all their flights from the United States to Israel at least until Saturday.

Calls for calm

United Nations and Egyptian officials said efforts to establish a ceasefire were underway and an Egyptian delegation arrived in Israel on Thursday, but there are still few signs of progress, and the government of the United Nations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to expand the offensive.

President Joe Biden called on Netanyahu to support Israel’s right to self-defense, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was sending a high-ranking diplomat to the region to push for a truce.

Blinken also spoke on Wednesday with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah faction rules the West Bank but has little influence in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The senior American diplomat “expressed his condolences for the lives lost as a result” of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, according to a reading of the appeal provided by the State Department.

“The Secretary condemned the rocket attacks and stressed the need to defuse tensions and end the current violence. The Secretary also expressed his belief that Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity, ”he said. mentionned.

Pamela Falk of CBS News reported Thursday that the Israeli UN delegation has called on the rest of the Security Council member states to clearly express their support for the country’s right to defend itself against attacks.

Delegations from Tunisia, China and Norway to the UN had called for the council to hold an open emergency meeting on the Middle East crisis on Friday, but a source close to US politics told Falk that the American delegation would prefer an open meeting next Tuesday to make room for diplomacy. at the highest levels.

At the end of Thursday, the United States and other countries agreed to hold an emergency open virtual meeting on Sunday.

The source said the United States was working behind the scenes to defuse the situation, but wanted “to ensure that Security Council action de-escalates tensions,” and that officials hoped for a ceasefire.


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