Footage of a far-right Israeli mob attacking a man near Tel Aviv they believed to be an Arab was aired live on television Wednesday night, as the Israel-Palestinian conflict raged on.
The shocking images show a man being forcibly removed from his car and beaten by a crowd of dozens until he lost consciousness.
The attack, broadcast by public broadcaster Kan, took place on the seafront promenade of Bat Yam, south of Israel’s commercial capital Tel Aviv.
Police and emergency services did not arrive on the scene until 15 minutes later, while the victim lay motionless on his back in the middle of the street.
Those in the crowd justified the attack by saying the man was an Arab who had tried to ram the far-right nationalists, but the footage shows a motorist trying to avoid the demonstration.
“The victim of the lynching is seriously injured but stable,” Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital said in a statement, without revealing his identity.
Far-right lawmaker Betzalel Smotrich, head of the “Religious Zionism” party, said he was “ashamed” of the “atrocious cruelty” of the attack.
“Jewish brothers, stop! We cannot under any circumstances allow ourselves to take part in violent acts,” he said.
Israel’s chief rabbi Yitzhak Yossef called for an end to attacks by Jews.
“Innocent citizens are being attacked by terrorist organisations, the heart is heavy and the images difficult, but we cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into provocations and aggressions,” he said.
Issawi Fredj, an Arab deputy from the left-wing Meretz party, said the images were a sign that the country was heading towards “civil war”.
Demonstrations by far-right activists broke out Wednesday night in several cities, leading to clashes with police and sometimes Arab Israelis.
Police said they were responding to violent incidents in cities including Acre, Haifa and Lod.
In Acre, a mixed Arab-Jewish town in northwest Israel, a Jew was seriously injured by stone throwers, police said.
“The rioters in Lod and Acre do not represent Israeli Arabs, the rioters in Bat Yam… do not represent Israeli Jews, violence will not dictate our lives,” said opposition leader Yair Lapid, who is currently tasked with forming a government after March elections.
Palestinian militants in Gaza have launched hundreds of rockets since Monday at Israel, which has carried out air strikes on the crowded coastal enclave.
The most intense hostilities in seven years between Israel and Gaza’s armed groups were triggered by weekend unrest at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “what has been happening in the last few days in the cities of Israel is unacceptable”.
“Nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews and nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs.”