In what the city’s mayor described as “Kristallnacht”—the unimaginable experience of a murderous pogrom aimed at the Jews living in a city in central Israel—residents of Lod were attacked by stone-throwing Arabs; Molotov cocktails were hurled at Jewish homes; dozens, perhaps hundreds, of vehicles were set alight; a synagogue was ransacked and burned; and municipal property was vandalized. Many families barricaded themselves in their homes in fear of the rampaging mobs while others chose to flee the city until calm was restored.

Rabbi Eliezer Chazan, a resident of Lod’s Yefei Nof neighborhood, which is immediately adjacent to the epicenter of the rioting in the northern neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol, described how Molotov cocktails were thrown at the neighborhood Chabad center’s parking lot and 11 of his neighbors’ cars were destroyed in the fire while the police and firefighters failed to arrive.

As attacks continued through the afternoon and into the night, Lod’s Mayor Yair Ravivo said “we have lost control, it’s like Kristallnacht here,” while local police were understaffed and untrained in riot control. The mayor went on television to plead for intervention by the central Israeli government, but none was immediately forthcoming. Meanwhile, defense groups of Jewish residents of Lod began to form, and Jewish men from towns in Samaria arrived to help protect people and property.

As the rioting grew worse, a 25-year-old Arab man, part of a violent mob fast approaching Jewish homes and educational institutions, was shot dead in defense by a Jewish man. The shooter was later arrested, and an investigation is ongoing. Israel’s Minister of Internal Security Amir Ohana told reporters that he believed that the shooter acted in self-defense and should not be in custody, but that the matter was “beyond his authority.”

“The family of the Arab rioter who was killed lives very close to our home,” continued Chazan, and his funeral was the scene of even more rioting. “I could see from my window how they set fire to trash in the streets, burned nearby fields and set fire to my neighbor’s yard. The mob was massed right outside my home for at least 20 minutes, and there were no police in sight. As soon as we could, we fled to the nearby village of Kfar Chabad,” he said.

A police shack near the Lod shuk is set aflame.
A police shack near the Lod shuk is set aflame.

The government eventually ordered reinforcements of 12 border police battalions into Lod to restore calm.

The rioting in Lod, just south of Ben-Gurion International Airport, occurred against a backdrop of major hostilities that have broken out between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, in which six Israelis have been killed and scores injured.

It is also the result of heightened tensions between Israeli security forces and Arabs in Jerusalem that has spilled over into several Israeli cities with mixed populations of Arabs and Jews, including nearby Ramla and Akko in the north.

‘These Are Our Neighbors’

“These are our neighbors—they own the stores that we shop at, we see them on a daily basis, and suddenly, they turned on us and we were on our own,” said Rabbi Yechiel Amar, co-director with his wife, Chaya Musia, of Chabad Ramot Lod, in the center of the city. “It’s frightening.” He added that rioters unsuccessfully attempted to burn down the town hall about 120 meters from his home.

Another Lod resident, local businessman Shmulik Brod, noted that following the funeral and accompanying rioting, Lod became a target of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip as well. “We endured a frightening night,” he told “We live in the center of town, and we were scared to leave the house. We covered our windows, and my wife and I carried pepper spray for defense.”

Most of the Lod’s Chabad-Lubavitch community of some 1,000 families live in Shikun Chabad, located in the southern part of the city, away from the epicenter of the disturbances, “but we could still feel the fear in the air, the streets were noticeably empty, and the kids are home studying via Zoom” Rabbi Yossi Levitin told

A Jewish famly passes by torched synagogues, cars and vandalized stores in the central Israeli city of Lod, following a night of heavy rioting by Arab residents in the city. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
A Jewish famly passes by torched synagogues, cars and vandalized stores in the central Israeli city of Lod, following a night of heavy rioting by Arab residents in the city. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

“We have a WhatsApp group to coordinate mutual assistance, and despite the situation,” continued Levitin. “Wednesday night we are organizing a community sale where food items for the Shavuot holiday will be sold at subsidized prices and delivered free to needy families.”

Rabbi Avrohom Chazan, director of Chabad of Sha’arei Haliya has been a resident of Lod since 1978. He says that relations between the city’s Jewish and Arab residents were never very good. “There were always tensions. Stone-throwing is common, and indiscriminate shots have been fired at homes. But the last two days of violence was unprecedented.”

The Sha’arei Haliya synagogue is located near where the center of the rioting occurred, and though its windows were stoned, fortunately there was no further damage, said the rabbi. Another synagogue in the city was vandalized, and the Talmud Torah Maoz Chaim was torched.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived in the city just after 2 a.m. on Wednesday, said that “what we have seen here has been utter anarchy, and no state can tolerate such behavior, and we won’t tolerate it here.” He ordered security forces “to act against the rioters with a heavy hand and restore quiet to the city.” The prime minister declared that “order must be restored with an iron fist” and called on residents to remain in their homes while security forces were doing their job.