The Irish Times view on clashes inside Israel: a deadly dynamic

Even if a ceasefire is agreed between Hamas and Israel, the likelihood is that there can be no return to a wary coexistence that did prevail in that country’s cities

Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City’s Rimal residential district following massive Israeli bombardment on the Hamas-controlled enclave. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City’s Rimal residential district following massive Israeli bombardment on the Hamas-controlled enclave. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

 

The outbreak in a number of Israeli cities of sectarian intercommunal street attacks, Jews on Palestinians and Palestinians on Jews, has injected a new, particularly dangerous and potentially lasting dynamic into the violence that has erupted in Israel and Gaza. Added to the cocktail that threatens a new war are rocket attacks on Israel from Lebanon, raising the possibility of another front in the fighting.

Israel carried out 150 more airstrikes in Gaza on Thursday night into Friday morning, wounding more than 50 people. There, the week’s death toll rose on Thursday to 83. Palestinian militants fired volleys of rockets from Gaza, some 1,800 in three days, that reached far into Israel, where seven have died since Monday. And yesterday Israel added ground forces to the assault on Gaza’s border, albeit still short of an incursion. It has called up 7,000 military reservists and cancelled all combat troop leave.

Despite calls for restraint internationally, attempts by Egypt to mediate and the US dispatching a senior official, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu insists: “We are doing this and we will continue to do so with great force. The last word was not said and this operation will continue as long as it takes to restore peace and security to the State of Israel”.

The clashes between its own citizens, the worst violence in decades in Israeli cities, are also raising the prospect of civil war. In the mixed Arab-Jewish town of Lod, cars were stoned, offices and places of worship burned, while mobs dragged people from their vehicles and beat them to within an inch of their lives. The violence spread quickly to the mixed Israeli cities of Acre and Haifa, long proud of their inter-communal relations, and to the Arab towns of the Galilee. Bedouin torched and ambushed Jewish cars with stones in the southern Negev desert.

Even if a ceasefire is agreed between Hamas and Israel, the likelihood is that there can be no return to a wary coexistence that did prevail in the country’s cities. The fear is that the genie will not go back in the bottle.

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