22 Oct, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

Thousands of Israelis were evacuated from their homes as fires raged around Israel over the weekend. A heatwave exacerbated the end-of-the-summer conditions but many of the fires are suspected to have been the result of arson.

250 Fires, Thousands Evacuated

Sources in the firefighting services reported 250 fires, seven of them categorized as major, in open areas in Israel on Friday. In total, twelve firefighting planes were deployed Friday and three helicopters. They were able to contain 158 fires. IDF soldiers were called in to help contain some of the fires and to assist in evacuating people from threatened residential areas.

Two firefighting planes were deployed to aid 13 firefighting teams on Friday as wildfires threatened to surround  Mount Dvora in the Galilee. Another four firefighting planes alongside eight additional firefighting teams to combat large brush fires near Mount Dov in the Golan Heights. The Jewish National Fund reported that more than 740 acres were burned in the  Lower Galilee region

On Friday night, 5,000 residents were evacuated from Nof Hagalil near Nazareth in the north. Eight families had no house to return to as their homes were completely destroyed in the fire. 3,200 of the residents were allowed to return to their homes on Saturday while another 800 were staying in hotels. Another 1,000 residents are sheltering with their families.

Firefighters worked overnight to control the blaze. 

On Friday morning, 25 firefighting crews battled a blaze that threatened Kfar Haoranim near Modi’in in central Israel. Many of the residents were forced to leave their homes but they were allowed to return by late afternoon. One house was severely damaged.

Heat Wave And Arson

This past month was the hottest September in Israel’s recorded history. In addition, winds of about 37 miles an hour swept over Israel’s north on Friday, helping to spread the fires. Most fires were believed to have been the result of the extreme heat but security officials raised concerns that some blazes in the West Bank, were the result of arson by Palestinians.

Firefighter chief Dedi Simchi told Channel 12 that most of the fires seemed to have been caused by people.

“We believe that most will be found to have been caused by human factors, we don’t yet know if it was negligence or deliberate,” he said. 

Request for Help

Prime Minister Netanyahu is considering sending out a request for international assistance. After an emergency meeting on Saturday with senior officials in the  Ministry of Homeland Security, the police, and the National Security Council, Netanyahu said In a statement to the media that should the situation deteriorate, international assistance would be necessary. 

“I received updates from the fire department chief and I asked him to ensure that we are using all our resources, and if need be, consider international assistance,” Netanyahu tweeted after meeting with internal security, police and National Security Council officials.

In this time of Israel’s need, it should be remembered that in September, a delegation of Israeli firefighters flew to California to help in fighting the wildfires. 

History of Arson Terror Targeting The Holy Land

This was revealed to be the case in the devastating fires of November 2016 when  1,773 fires raged across the country burning 4,900 acres of forests and brushland. Despite evidence of intentional arson in most of the blazes and several indictments leading to the arrest of 35 suspects, no one was ever prosecuted for the arsons. More than 15 were citizens of the Palestinian Authority and at least 10 were Arab citizens of Israel. Of 80 investigated fires, 71 were determined to have been the result of arson.

A similar wave of fires ravaged the Carmel region of Israel for three days in December 2010, claiming 44 lives and destroying over 12,000 acres of land. The beginning of the catastrophe was followed by a wave of arsons intended to divert firefighting forces. 

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas told Reuters that the Carmel fire and the ensuing arsons were “plagues from God. Allah is punishing [the Israelis] from a place they did not expect.”

Palestinian sources refuted the claims of arson in the recent fires, claiming that several blazes were caused by IDF smoke and tear gas canisters fired during clashes with Palestinian “protesters.”

Arab Arson Proves the Jews are the Rightful Owners: “They Burn, We Build

Rabbi Tuly Weisz, founder and head of Israeli365, emphasized that by burning the land, the Arabs demonstrate that they do love the land. 

“As the world debates whether to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, it is clear from Palestinian arson attacks such as this one, that the Jewish people are in fact the rightful owners of the Land of Israel,” Rabbi Weisz said. “They burn, but we build. They destroy, but we create. The Israel365 Charity Fund is committed to helping the families who have been harmed by this latest arson attack. Thanks to our Christian donors, we will help these Jewish families get back on their feet.”

Rabbi Weisz referred to the commentary written by Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, the medieval French Biblical commentator known by the acronym ‘Rashi.’ 

“Rashi’s first commentary on the beginning of Genesis was read on Saturday on the holiday of Simchat Torah,” Rabbi Weisz said. “Almost one thousand years ago, Rashi explained that the story of Creation was included in the Bible because one day, the non-Jews would make a claim against the Jews that we stole the land of Israel. The Biblical account of Creation is to show that God created the world and He alone had the right to give the land to someone. And He gave it to the Jews.”

“Here we are, one thousand years later, and that is precisely what the world is accusing Israel of doing. God commanded us to protect and preserve the land. We are the shepherds of God’s creating. We are protecting and safeguarding the land, something the Arabs failed to do and still fail to do.”