Utah professor describes life on ground in Israel as rockets rain down amid riots

May 17, 2021, 5:31 PM
Gaza fighting...
Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

SALT LAKE CITY — A professor who calls both Israel and Utah home says the country is now facing two conflicts: an external one with Hamas firing rockets and an internal one that pits neighbor against neighbor as mob violence sweeps across the nation.

University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora divides his time between Utah and Jerusalem. Monday, he joined Dave & Dujanovic on KSL NewsRadio to tell host Dave Noriega and guest host Mary Richards what it’s like on the ground in Israel as the most serious conflict in years enters a second week.

Israeli strikes have killed 200 people in Gaza, including 59 children and 35 women, and displaced 40,000 more, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Monday. Rocket fire from Gaza has killed at least 10 people in Israel, including two children, since the start of the flareup, according to the IDF, as reported by CNN.

“Tell us more about what you are experiencing there this past week and what’s going on today?” Mary asked.

Worst street violence: Utah professor on life in Israel

The current fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza has led to an eruption of violence in Israeli cities, with dueling Jewish and Arab mobs roaming the streets, destroying property and beating innocents, according to Vox.

“I think this conversation needs to be divided into two distinct interlocking parts,” said Guiora. “Part one is the conflict between Hamas and Israel . . . The rockets coming into Israel, the Israeli Air Force responding by bombing various targets in Hamas. That’s part one.

“Part two, and frankly, far more distressing, and in my opinion, far more important, is the — for lack of a better word — is the rioting that has taken place in Israel in the last five days between Jews and Arabs.

“We’ve never had that since the state [of Israel] was created in 1948. . . . 20% of Israelis are Israeli-Arabs, and we have mixed towns which is where Arabs and Jews live together,” Guiora said.

An unusual commute

“Why are you in Israel right now?” Dave asked.

“I live here. I commute between the U. We live outside Jerusalem. I lead a commuting existence. In pre-COVID days I flew I think 200,000 miles a year,” the professor said. “Some people commute from Sandy to Salt Lake City. I commute from Jerusalem to Salt Lake City.”

“But that point about what’s happening in the street. Why is that so much more concerning to you to see this? These relationships seems like they break apart, neighbor and neighbor,” Mary said.

“That’s exactly what it is,” Guiora said. “I’m a firm believer that whether it’s extremist Jews or extremist Israeli-Arabs engaged in violence, they need to be arrested. They need to be prosecuted.”

The Utah law professor explained that he served for 20 years in Israel Defense Forces. For three years, he was the Israel Defense Forces’ legal adviser to the Gaza Strip. He was also the legal adviser to the Home Front Command, the Israeli version of Department of Homeland Security, which he said addresses internal issues.

Iron Dome saves lives

“I look at these rockets being fired into the sky. Can you paint a picture of what you’re seeing or what it’s like when these rockets are coming into Israel?” Dave asked.

Guiora said last Monday, when the violence started, he was in a Zoom call on University of Utah-related business when the Iron Dome siren sounded across his part of Israel.

“It gives us a minute from the moment you hear the siren to go into a safe space . . . all our homes have these safe rooms,” he said. “I’m sure that from the perspective of the American audience the thought of having — 1,500 or 2,000 rockets that have been fired into Israel in the past five days or six days. If rockets were being fired into the United States, I can’t imagine anybody would tolerate that.

“Again, I want to emphasize that we’re facing two conflicts: one with Hamas and one internal to Israel . . .  that maybe is not getting the headlines in the States, but I think it’s frankly the more important one,” Guiora said.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Utah professor describes life on ground in Israel as rockets rain down amid riots