As fires continue to erupt across the country, Israeli police have arrested over 30 Arabs suspected of arson or complicity in what has been dubbed the “arson intifada.”
By: Atara Beck, World Israel News
Close to 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes over the past several days due to wildfires erupting in various locations across the country, with over half attributed to Palestinian terrorism.
The hardest hit was Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city, where 85,000 residents were evacuated from 11 neighborhoods on Thursday. Indeed, an Arab arsonist was caught in the act, trying to burn down a fire station.
There were no deaths, despite the devastation, but over 100 people were treated for smoke inhalation.
On Thursday morning, police arrested three Arabs who were seen attempting, albeit unsuccesfully, to start a fire in Ariel, Samaria’s largest city.
During the day on Friday, the town of Beit Meir in the Jerusalem Hills and the small, nearby community of Nataf were attacked. All residents fled, and the property damage was immense.
Dozens of areas engulfed in flames
Late Friday evening, the entire town of Neve Tsuf, or Halamish – in Samaria – was evacuated as fires erupted from three separate locations in the town. Two Palestinian arsonists were caught on video and are now under arrest.
Dozens of other locations across the country were also in flames.
The initial blazes that began on Tuesday in the north were initially attributed to the unusually dry, windy weather, but it soon became clear that the wildfires that continued to erupt across the country were sparked by terror.
Help arrives from other countries, including US Supertanker
Firefighting planes arrived from several countries in order to help Israel cope with the crisis, as well as from the Palestinian Authority (PA). A US Supertanker, the largest firefighting aircraft in the world, arrived Friday and headed immediately for the blazing Jerusalem Hills.
While last year was hit by what was dubbed the “knife intifada,” the current wave of terror has been called an “arson intifada” and a “fire intifada.”
Social media has been awash with hateful, anti-Israel comments, mostly with Arab names, celebrating the devastation and using the hashtag #IsraelBurns.
“A price will be paid for this arson terrorism,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Friday.
Netanyahu thanks Abbas for firefighting assistance
On Saturday evening, Netanyahu thanked PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for sending firefighters to assist in extinguishing the fires. “The Prime Minister also appreciates the fact that Jews and Arabs alike opened their homes to those affected by the fires,” according to a statement from the Government Press Office.