These lines are being written under fire. Israel is engaged in a bizarre war that it did not want, sparked by a dispute between Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the Jews seeking to evict them from their homes. It spread to Al-Aqsa Mosque, where it was fueled by observances of the holy month of Ramadan, sparked an intense clash with Hamas and Gaza and prompted rioting by Arab citizens of Israel. Scenes of Arab gangs prowling the streets of the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Lod and venting their anger on Jewish neighbors evoked comparisons to anti-Jewish pogroms in pre-Nazi Europe. In some Lod neighborhoods, Jewish residents barricaded themselves in their homes, fearing they would be harmed by the groups of Arabs torching cars, synagogues and other facilities.
Police were caught unprepared, even helpless. Border police units were sent in to back up local police forces spread thin throughout the country dealing with rioting in other mixed towns, such as Acre. The transition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also caught off guard. The nightmare scenario that many Israelis feared was suddenly here.