Israel Fires Day 4: Terrorism By Arson?

As the fourth day of fires raging across Israel begins, there is some calm as a number of fires have been braked, others are under control, but a new fire bursts forth in the south. The great majority of the fires were caused by arson and the situation is being referred to by some as the “Fire Intifada”.

 

A new fire broke out today (Friday), according to the early morning news report on Israel’s Channel 2 TV. The fire is close to the town of Kiryat Gat, north of Be’er Sheva. Train service to the town was stopped for a short time but trains are now running smoothly.

Yesterday the main fire hotspots were Haifa and Beit Meir near Jerusalem. Most news reports spoke of 60,000 evacuees from Haifa who had to leave their homes either because they were in direct line of the advancing fires or because of danger of smoke inhalation. Some reports exaggerated and claimed 75-80,000 evacuees. It should be noted that 60,000 evacuees means that about one-quarter of the population of Haifa had to leave their homes.

According to Channel 2 news this morning, most of the Haifa evacuees found places to stay with friends or relatives in other parts of the country. About 12,000 people are staying in hotels or in specially arranged shelters, such as one opened in a huge hall on the University of Haifa campus. Citizens in unaffected towns are opening their homes to take in those who have no other place to go. Some Arab citizens are offering shelter to Haifa residents regardless of whether they are Jews or Arabs.

Among the evacuees are residents of three nursing homes in Haifa, many in their 90s and some over 100 years old. Because they need ongoing medical attention, they cannot stay in public shelters for more than a day. Therefore, arrangements are being made to move them to nursing homes in other parts of the country. This will prove a hardship for the nursing homes that receive them due to the crowding and the increased demands placed on staff.

Just as they do after successful terrorist attacks that kill and injure Israelis by stabbings, rock throwing or car ramming, Palestinian Arabs are celebrating the Haifa fires.

And the social media has a new hashtag #IsraelisBurning.

 

Israel’s Education Minister, Naftalie Bennett was quoted as having tweeted that the only ones who could set the land afire are those to whom it does not belong. However, at the same time as they are being accused of terrorist arson, fire-fighters from the Palestinian Authority helped combat the flames in Haifa last night as they did during the tragic Carmel Fire of 2010.

Arab Members of the Knesset, who were often seen fanning the flames (so to speak) of terrorism during previous waves of terrorist activities against Jews, have publicly announced their consternation to the arson and called for calm. Is this a sign that burning the land is a line the Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Arabs do not want to cross? While the fires in Haifa are equally dangerous to Haifa’s Arab and Jewish residents, it must be noted that the fires outside of Haifa are affecting Jewish towns and are, suspiciously, not blazing near Arab towns.

The Jerusalem Post noted that:

MK Nava Boker (Likud), who police officer husband died in the 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire, wrote on Facebook: โ€œ200 fires in one day โ€“ the time has come to say it openly. This is ecological terrorism.โ€

Two Russian fire-fighting planes are expected to land in Israel this evening. Greek planes are already in situ and Croatia is expected to provide fire-fighting planes as are Cyprus, Turkey and Italy; American supertankers are said to be on their way to Israel.

[Feature image credit: Screenshot of embedded Tweet]

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