Israeli Wildfires Under Control, Arabs Accused of ”Arson”

The wave of deadly Israeli wildfires that erupted on 22 of November are finally under control. The fires initially started at Jerusalem, backed by dry and windy weather conditions later spread across the country.

The Northern Israeli port city of Haifa was the most-hit where devastating blazes destroyed buildings and forced thousands to flee. The deadly fires completely consumed over 527 apartments and 77 buildings. Over a quarter of the city’s population was evacuated from 11 neighborhoods.

Israel wildfires destruction
Hellenic Air force plane taking part in the firegight. By Evilhakfar Wikipedia

With fires under control-Israel hints at ”Arson”

”Fires that spread through the northern port city of Haifa are apparently “acts of terrorism,” and the government will compensate residents for loss of property”, said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

Israeli Prime minister Natanyahu has accused Arabs for intentionally setting fires. Natanyahu and many of his ministers issued barrage of statements blaming the country’s Arab minority for the Wildfires.

”We would work to strip residency from anyone found guilty of “terrorism”, some of the fires were the handiwork of “elements with great hostility towards Israel”, said Natanyahu on Thursday.

In response to Natanyahu’s blame game rhetoric, a Palestinian member of the country’s Knesset accused the Prime minister of try to achieve “political gains out of an unfortunate state of events”

“The Israeli ministers not only blamed Palestinians for igniting the fires, but Mr Netanyahu, the prime minister, and Aryeh Deri, the internal affairs minister, suggested revoking the citizenship of anyone who lit fires,” said Jamal Zahalka, a Knesset member and leader of the Balad faction.

Arrests made on suspicion

The Israeli police arrested over two dozen Arabs in suspected connection to the wildfires. The deadly wildfires basically started due to dry hot and windy weather conditions. Police said it can’t independently verify what percent of the fires were set intentionally.

Micky Rosenfeld a spokesman for the Israeli police confirmed the arrest of 23 people so far. Some of them, said Micky, were spotted setting up the blazes, chased by police helicopters and arrested.

Palestinian Firefighters assisted Israel

The Palestinian authority sent fire trucks and personal to assist Israel fight the blazes. Palestinian firefighters worked with their Israeli counterparts both in Northern Israel and Jerusalem. Palestinian civil defense, based in the West banks city of Ramallah sent eight fire trucks on Thursday. The assistance was delivered on the request of Israel for help.

Palestine helps Israel fight fires
Palestinian fire fighters (L) with an Israeli security official, during fire fight operations in Haifa.

The Prime Minister’s office issued a statement on Saturday saying Natanyahu thanked Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas for the assistance on a phone call.

Jordan and Egypt participated in the firefight

Jordan and Egypt also sent teams to fight the Wildfires. The two Arab countries offered assistance to help putting out the fires. Israeli Prime Minister accepted the assistance offer.

“I’ve accepted the offer of help in putting out the fires from Egypt and Jordan, Egypt will send two firefighting helicopters and Jordan will send fire trucks”, said Natanyahu in a Tweet.

 Aftermath of the wildfires, Nataf near Jerusalem

This aerial footage by Elements shows the amount of destruction made by the wildfires in Nataf area near Jerusalem.

Forest fires in Israel would only get worse

Experts have warned Israel that forest fires like this would only get worse in coming years. This is because the Winter starts later with extremely dry November and December months. The dense pine forests around Jerusalem become inflammable during such weather conditions.

”Winter is beginning later, and the months of November and December have become very dry, with strong winds,” says Hanoch Tzoref of JNF (Jewish National Fund).

Similar deadly wildfire in Israel

The Mount Carmel fire of 2010 was another deadly fire that wreaked havoc in the Northern Israel, just South of ‘now hard-hit Haifa city. The fire consumed most of the Mediterranean forest in the region. Mount Carmel fire claimed 44 lives most of them prion officer training cadets and commanders.