State of emergency in Lod after worst violence since 2014
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State of emergency in Lod after worst violence since 2014

As rioting sweeps towns across Israel, at least five Israelis and 35 Palestinians have died in fighting across the Gaza border

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

The number of Israelis killed by rocket fire from Gaza this week rose to five as the region saw its worst outbreak of violence in years.

Health officials in Gaza said 35 Palestinians had died as the IDF responded with hundreds of airstrikes in the territory, which is controlled by Hamas.

It fuelled another night of unrest in Israeli towns with large Arab populations.

In the central city of Lod, authorities declared a state of emergency after rioting saw cars torched and some Jewish residents evacuated from their homes.

The town’s mayor Yair Revivo said decades of peaceful coexistence had collapsed in a “civil war” overnight.

He said the scenes resembled Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany.

The Israeli death toll rose to five overnight after a rocket from Gaza struck a house outside Lod. It killed 52-year-old Halil Awad and his 16-year-old daughter. The mother of the family remains in a critical condition, the Times of Israel reported.

Many Israelis woke up in bomb shelters on Wednesday after sirens sounded across the centre and south of the country, from Tel Aviv to Beersheba.

Over a thousand rockets have now been fired from Gaza since the latest flare-up began on Monday evening.

Israel responded with more air strikes overnight, with the IDF claiming to have killed the head of Hamas’ military intelligence security department and his deputy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a late-night televised address that the IDF campaign would not end quickly.

He said Hamas and Islamic Jihad “have paid, and I tell you here, will pay a heavy price for their aggression.”

“This campaign will take time,” he added. “With determination, unity and strength, we will restore security to the citizens of Israel.”

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