Ben-Gvir vows to deploy new 'national guard' in Arab-Jewish city of Lod during Ramadan
Palestinian residents of the city of Lod are warning against plans by Israel's national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir to deploy units from the newly established "national guard" in diverse cities.
The Israeli Kan public broadcaster reported that the unit would include several dozen civilians with a military background serving as a special watch squad.
"I thank the prime minister for accepting my request for the establishment of a national guard and the addition of thousands of police officers," Ben Gvir wrote on Twitter on Monday.
The first national guard unit will likely deploy in Lod, southeast of Jaffa, during the Mulsim holy month of Ramadan.
In May 2021, amid tensions in occupied East Jerusalem and a flare-up between Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza and Israel, Jewish extremists attacked Palestinians in several mixed cities, including Lod, Acre and Haifa.
Lod resident Ghassan Munayer described the national guard force as mere "settlers" who are "given weapons, training and legality to roam the streets in Lod to provoke Arabs."
The city of Lod is one of the poorest in Israel and is rife with crime.
Nearly 25,000 of its 82,000 residents are Palestinian Arabs; some moved to the city during the Nakba in 1948. However, most of its Jewish residents came from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union and are struggling with economic and social integration into their adopted country.
Former Lod city councillor Fidaa Shihade criticised the idea of the national guard, citing the prevalence of gun culture among Israelis and a lack of a clear mandate for the force.
"I don't call them guards," she said.
Shihade, now a member of the "coalition of women against arms", a lobby that advocates stricter gun-control laws in Israel, told The New Arab that the national guard's powers aren't clear.
"In practice they are militias to instigate riots," she added.
Shihade, whose ancestors were expelled from the coastal city of Askalan and ended up in Lod, or al-Lid, in Arabic, said that she resigned from her post as city councillor after a concerted campaign of incitement against her by the Israeli right.
"What we need is to rebuild the Palestinian society in Lod and combat crime." she said.
Only several hundred Palestinians in Lod evaded the ethnic cleansing campaign by Zionist forces during the Nakba. Now, most of its Arab inhabitants are displaced Bedouins from the Naqab (Negev) and nearby towns and cities, including Jaffa.
In May 2021, hundreds of Jewish settlers from the settlement of Yitzhar south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank descended on Lod and attacked the Palestinian residents there.
One Palestinian and Israeli were killed during the unrest in Lod in May 2021: 31-year-old Moussa Hassouneh and 56-year-old Yigal Yehoshua.
Ghassan Mounayer suggested that the national guard's purpose is to wage a "battle against Arabs," to divert attention from pressing issues such as Netanyahu's corruption trial and the judiciary changes in Israel and striking Syria and Iran.
At least 63 Palestinians and 14 Israelis have been killed since the beginning of the year, with no end in sight to the violence.
On Monday evening, Jewish settlers attacked the town of Huwara again.
Unbelievable! #Israeli soldiers & settlers are now LITERALLY dancing side by side in the very Huwara village that settlers burned down a week ago.— Muhammad Shehada (@muhammadshehad2) March 6, 2023
One yells "Huwara is a great shame!"
IDF soldiers teargassed locals in the town.
The pogromists were "an extreme fringe" they said! pic.twitter.com/ZCjLnrXDax
One video showed Israeli soldiers and settlers dancing to Purim music in the town as Palestinian residents and shops were attacked.
On February 26, scores of violent Jewish settlers set fire to homes, cars and trees in Huwara. One Palestinian, Ousama Aqtash, was killed during the settlers' assault. The settlers' rampage followed the killing of two Jewish settlers in the area. An Israeli army general called the events in Huwara a 'pogrom.'