Arson fire (Image credit: Avi Ohayon/Government Press Office of Israel)
Head of the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority’s Investigation Branch Ran Shelef made a damning yet unsurprising revelation on Wednesday, as he spoke about the wave of fires that swept the country and caused massive damage last winter.
"What we discovered while investigating these incidents [is that] a very high percentage - over 80% or 90% - of the incidents were the result of arson," Shelef said, dropping the bombshell during an interview with IDF Radio.
The senior fireman exposed another "hate fact," as leftists would likely term it: "The arrested [arsonists] are all members of the Arab sector." He further clarified the arson attacks were not isolated incidents connected to certain locations or events, but rather a sweeping phenomenon that struck all along the "seam line" between Jewish and Arab towns.
While Shelef refused to determine the motive behind the arson attacks, many have deduced they are terror attacks given their clear outcome of causing damage and potentially death to Jews in Israel.
The head of investigations indicated the difficulty in stopping such attacks, which he noted are often perpetrated "with great ease." Shelef specified that the fire in the town of Halamish in Samaria last November, which burned down 18 homes, was started simply by "using toilet paper” – certainly an easily accessible weapon.
The extent of the damage caused by the arson wave is dramatic. In one week in November 2016 alone over 200 fires were set, and a large proportion of the suspected arsonists nabbed by the police were Arabs with Israeli citizenship.
Haifa, which has a large Arab population, was struck the worst – just under 100,000 residents of the city were evacuated and over 600 homes were damaged, with around 40 of them ending up completely destroyed. And the wave was just the latest, with each year producing a similar streak of arson attacks.
Shelef’s revelations about the identity of the perpetrators would seem to indicate that instead of trying to catch every arsonist in the act, which would require massive manpower and financial resources, Israel may be wiser to apply its methods of security profiling and tracking that have been generally successful in thwarting conventional terrorists.
A first step would clearly be to recognize the arson for what it is – terrorism stemming from a desire to harm the state and its civilians. So far Israel has been loath to decisively name the problem.
Ironically, Shelef’s report comes just two days after the 48th anniversary of a famous arson: the Al-Aqsa Mosque arson of Aug. 21, 1969.
In that incident, Michael Rohan, a mentally ill Australian Christian farm hand, set the mosque ablaze thinking his destiny was to become king of Jerusalem. Israeli firefighters arrived at the mosque within minutes to try and put out the fire, but Arab Muslims began rioting, enraged by what they imagined to be an Israeli act. The rioters blocked the firefighters from carrying out their duty, and even broke the only fire hydrant at the site.
But despite the fact that rioting Muslims were largely responsible for the extent of the damage caused by the fire, and even though Rohan was demonstrably mentally unstable, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has long used the incident as a libel to incite more terror and more arson. The PA falsely claims Rohan was a Jew and that the State of Israel was behind the arson.
In an example of the deep messages embedded in the Hebrew language, the word for incitement "hasata" and arson "hatzata" are just one letter off – while one spreads hate, the other spreads flames. The PA has apparently figured out that incitement also can spread arson, and so 48 years later, it continues to rekindle the flames.