Israeli far-right mob beats man senseless on live TV in night of communal violence

Israeli politicians and religious leaders condemn 'atrocious cruelty' of attack that left man in critical condition

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Footage of a far-right Israeli mob attacking a man near Tel Aviv they believed to be an Arab was broadcast live on television on Wednesday night, as the Israel-Palestinian conflict raged on.

The shocking images show a man, later identified by local media as an Israeli Arab, being forcibly removed from his car and beaten by a crowd of dozens until he lost consciousness.

The attack, broadcast by public service 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.

We cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into provocations and aggressions

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 protest.

"The victim of the lynching is seriously injured but stable," Tel Aviv's Ichilov hospital said.

The violent incident in Bat Yam is one of many Jewish-Arab confrontations in Israeli cities in recent nights during intense cross-border fire between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip that began on Monday.

At least 67 people in Gaza, including 16 children and five women, and seven in Israel have been killed.

Clashes also occurred in the cities of Lod, Haifa and Acre.

Far-right politician Betzalel Smotrich, leader 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  ... 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 on Wednesday night in several cities, leading to clashes with police and sometimes Arab Israelis.

In Acre, a mixed Arab-Jewish town in north-west 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 has the task of forming a government after March elections.

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."

Israel's Arab minority – Palestinian by heritage, Israeli by citizenship – is mostly descended from the Palestinians who lived under Ottoman and then British colonial rule before staying in Israel after the country was created in 1948.

Most are bilingual, speaking Arabic and Hebrew, and feel a sense of kinship with their fellow Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

They often complain of systemic discrimination and unfair access to housing, healthcare and education services.

Since Monday, Palestinian militants in Gaza launched hundreds of rockets 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.