Unmet demands for protection money is behind Arab arson that destroyed three businesses in Hatzor Glilit, says Shimon Suissa.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Three businesses were destroyed by arson late Saturday night in the Galilee town of Hatzor Glilit in what the local council head is calling a longstanding Arab wave of terror.
“Unfortunately, we woke up yesterday night to another incident of arson, of terror,” Shimon Suissa said. It “is hurting not only Hatzor Glilit but the entire Galilee for the last several years….
“Israel knows how to deal with all terror. It’s time that the prime minister, the minister of internal security and the police chief understand that a war is going on here. We cannot lose the businesses, we can’t lose the north.”
“Come here and let’s make order,” he demanded. “Innocent business owners went to bed at night and got up in the morning with nothing left. This cannot continue.”
The arsonists reportedly came to the town’s industrial area and cut open the entrance gate to a structure containing several businesses. They poured flammable liquid around an air conditioner and electronic goods store and set it alight, burning it to the ground. A housewares store and a robotics business within the same building were also caught in the fire and very badly damaged.
The owner of the electronics store, a Hasidic Jew, told the religious news site Kikar Shabbat that he was on vacation when he received a call at midnight telling him that his business was on fire.
“The flames burned all night, until 8 a.m., and completely destroyed my business,” he said.
According to Ynet, police have arrested several people over recent weeks on suspicion of engaging in extortion in the northern Galilee, but all of them have been released from detention even though the authorities still consider them suspects.
One of those arrested in mid-July was a former police station commander who is currently the owner of a security company. A recent string of arson attacks on businesses were suspected of being carried out specifically by security companies, and an undercover operation was approved. This led directly to his arrest and the arrest of four others on suspicion of extortion and causing property damage.
The former officer’s lawyer denied all charges and said that he was sure his client would be released after a short inquiry with apologies for his false arrest.
For his part, Suissa wants action – police reinforcements, intelligence work, hidden cameras, whatever it takes.
“The State of Israel must stop ignoring the wave of protectionist terrorism that is raging throughout the Galilee,” he said.
The police put out a statement saying they had been called to the middle of the night fire and began to work immediately.
“Police investigators arrived at the scene, collected findings, opened an investigation, and the background to the incident is being checked,” the statement said.