As rockets and airstrikes have pummeled targets across Gaza and Israel, a different conflict has erupted in the streets of Arab neighborhoods and mixed Arab-Jewish towns across the state of Israel.
Palestinian citizens of Israel have rioted in several cities since Monday night, burning cars and Jewish-owned properties, as anger at the Gaza conflict, as well as at decades of discrimination dating back to the foundation of the state of Israel, found its expression in street violence.
In the central city of Lod, known in Arabic as Lydd, the government declared a state of emergency on Wednesday morning, after a synagogue, a school and several vehicles were torched by Arab rioters on Monday and Tuesday nights.
A Palestinian citizen, Moussa Hassouna, was shot dead by a Jewish resident during the disturbances on Monday night, and another wave of unrest followed his funeral 24 hours later.
In the northern city of Acre, a popular Jewish fish restaurant was set on fire, while Arab Bedouins attacked police stations and passing cars in southern Israel’s Negev desert.
For many Arabs, the riots are a howl of righteous anger at structural injustice, as well as a growing synergy between Arab citizens of Israel, who are descended from the Palestinians who remained in Israel after it was created in 1948; Palestinian refugees who fled abroad at that time; and Palestinians living in territory occupied by Israel in 1967.
They include Palestinians in East Jerusalem, whose land was annexed by Israel in 1967, a move that has never been internationally recognized; Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, parts of which are governed by the semiautonomous Palestinian Authority; and Gaza, a coastal enclave governed by Hamas that is under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade.
For many Israeli Jews, the violence is reminiscent of the mob attacks that targeted Jews in 19th-century Europe and sped the emigration of early Zionists to Palestine. And for both communities, it summons memories of two Palestinian uprisings, known as intifadas — the first lasting from the late 1980s until the early 1990s, and the second in the early 2000s.
“I feel like it’s 100 years ago, and I’m a defenseless Jew in the pogroms,” said Shabtai Pessin, 27, standing in a burned-out classroom on Tuesday at a religious school in Lod. “What’s our sin?” added Mr. Pessin, a local resident. “Wanting a Jewish state after 2,000 years of exile?”
The room was still smoking from an arson attack the previous night, and all its walls and furniture were charred black. In the street, two cars were burned out, and nearby the road was scorched.
For Mr. Pessin, the attacks by Israeli Arabs were senseless and inexplicable. “We welcomed them with open arms,” Mr. Pessin said. “And then they got riled up to burn things.”
But to Israeli Arabs, the violence is a natural outcome not only of outrage at the Gaza conflict but also of systemic discrimination since 1948, as well as what they see as the parallels between Palestinian experiences in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.
“Most of us feel that we belong to the same nation,” said Maha Nakib, 50, an administrator and former City Council member in Lod. “We have families exiled in Ramallah,” a city in the West Bank, “and in refugee camps in Gaza. We feel we have a lot in common.”
The Arab minority in Israel forms about 20 percent of the total Israeli population of 9 million, and they have full citizenship. Many have become lawmakers, judges and senior civil servants.
But Arab communities are chronically under-resourced, with little funding set aside to address Arab poverty and gang violence. They also face restrictions on access to housing, land and planning permission.
More than 900 new Jewish communities have been built in Israel’s history, but only seven for Arabs. In the Negev, dozens of Bedouin towns have never been given planning permission, leading to the demolition of hundreds of structures there every year.
The question of land has particular resonance in Lod: Thousands of Palestinians fled from their homes there in 1948, never to return, and the trauma of that event still lingers today.
“I still feel unsure whether I can keep living here,” said Ms. Naqib. “I fear they will try to expel us from our homes.”
And while it was Arabs who rioted in Lod and destroyed people’s property this week, Ms. Naqib said, it was a Jew who ultimately killed an Arab on Monday night — Ms. Naqib’s second cousin.
“I feel very afraid,” Ms. Naqib said as she arrived at her cousin’s wake. “And I feel a lot of anger that these settlers can start to shoot us.”