The mayor of Acre, known locally as Akko, a northern Israeli coastal city, warned on Sunday that Israel was “on the brink of civil war” between Arabs and Jews.
Shimon Lankri delivered the grave warning during an emergency conference of the Forum for Security, Governance and Settlement.
“A moment before we fall into a civil war, and I say this really after I was a witness to all the events of the May [2021, Operation ‘Guardian of the Walls’], the endpoint of the events of May will be the opening mark for the coming events,” Lankri stated.
“Whoever hasn’t understood it yet: We are on the brink of civil war in the State of Israel, and not Haredim [ultra-Orthodox] against secular Jews, but rather Arabs against Jews. This is the next civil war. This will happen to us soon,” the mayor warned.
Israeli cities like Acre, Lod and Ramla are known as mixed cities, meaning they have a Jewish majority but also a significantly-sized Arab minority.
During Hamas’ war against Israel last May, Gazan terrorist groups fired several thousand rockets toward Israeli civilian population centers, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
In parallel, lethal violence between Arabs and Jews took place in several mixed cities in Israel. Radicalized Arab Israelis attacked Jewish Israelis while extremist Jewish Israelis attacked Arab Israelis. Amid rioting, Arab extremists in the Old City of Acre torched the famous Israeli Jewish Uri Buri restaurant.
While the situation in Israel’s “mixed cities” calmed down after last May’s war with Hamas, tensions between local Arabs and Jews still exist; a year-and-a-half later, many still fear the risk of a potential civil war between Israel’s Arab and Jewish citizens.
At Sunday’s conference, the Acre mayor urged the Israeli government to restore law and order, especially in the Negev and the Galilee regions, where Arab and Jewish citizens live in close proximity.
“We need to do things that we haven’t done [up ’til now]. We abandoned the area, and it’s in our hands [to do something],” Lankri said.
While Israel faces many serious external threats – primarily from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas – a growing number of Israeli officials believe that the greatest threat will be internal violence between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel.
Israeli Defense Forces Maj.-Gen.(res.) and former Knesset Member Eyal Ben-Reuven noted that the “greatest threat today to Israeli society is the threat from within – the threat to the personal security of the residents.”
Arab Israeli officials also warned against increased lawlessness in parts of Israeli society.
“If the state continues to exist in its current form we are going to perish,” said Behij Mansour, the council head of Isfiya, an Arabic-speaking Druze town in northern Israel.
Mansour’s warnings should be taken seriously. Numbering around 140,000 people, the Druze-Israeli minority has a long history of loyalty towards the state, and most Druze-Israeli youth voluntarily serve in the Israeli army. However, like many Arabic-speaking minorities in Israel, the Druze feel discriminated against by the state, in terms of budget allocations and law enforcement provisions.
“There is no governance in the Druze population,” Mansour said. “Crime families begin to take over the Druze villages. Of the 90 Isfiya shooting incidents, not a single one was solved. People go outside and are afraid they will get shot. The Israel Police has no manpower and cannot do anything.”
“Start thinking differently, otherwise we and you will not be here. The Druze are dealing with the issue of construction, and governance; they expropriated many dunams [of land] from the Druze,” Mansour stated. “I don’t want to establish a Druze state; I want to have a planning horizon. I don’t want illegal construction.”
Israel’s State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman recently concluded that a serious lack of law enforcement enabled the riots to spread across several cities in Israel last May.
“The violent riots during Operation Guardian of the Walls revealed significant deficiencies in the operations of the Police and in the interface between police and the Shin Bet [the Israel Security Agency],” said Englman this past week. “These deficiencies severely harmed the most basic personal security that Israeli citizens are entitled to.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.