A Fiery Terrorist Conflagration
"Every fire that was caused by arson, or incitement to arson, is terrorism by all accounts. And we will treat it as such. Whoever tries to burn parts of Israel will be punished for it severely.""This is something that harms all of us. This is not a story or Arab or Jew. Whoever did this is an enemy of all of us", stressed Ayman Odeh, chief of the joint Arab bloc of parties in the Israeli Knesset, a native of Haifa, whose appeal went out to all Israelis that "politics" needed to be abandoned, and set aside at this critical time for Israel's survival. At the same time, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan stated that Israel has been placed on yet another alert, that "we need to be prepared for a new type of terror".
"I want to say as clearly as possible, any fire caused by arson, or by incitement to arson, is terrorism, and we will deal with it accordingly. That is my directives to the security services – we will deal with all acts of lawlessness. Anyone who tries or will try to burn parts of Israel will be punished with all severity."
"It's a crime for all intents and purposes and in our opinion it is terror for all intents and purposes."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Time will tell whether Israel, still reeling over a year of knife stabbings, vehicle ramming and shootings, is being over-alarmist for what this four-day hellfire outburst represents.
And then suspicion fell upon the same demographic among the Palestinians who have been responsible for a year's worth of attacks against Israelis in what was called the 'dagger Intifada', which appeared to have morphed into the 'wildfire Intifada'.
The fires have sprung up all over Israel; dry windy weather has helped immensely as fire presented the danger of destroying parts of Israel's third largest city, the seaport of Haifa, necessitating the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents. Incidents of looting at the site of emptied neighbourhoods were apprehended.
As firefighters in Israel, using newly-acquired fire-fighting equipment hoped to contain the fires, offers came in from the international community for help. No serious injuries were seen though people suffered from smoke inhalation, requiring hospitalization.
Hundreds of military reservists were called up to aid the police and firefighters tasked with the difficult job of saving neighbourhoods, evacuating people, fighting the wildfires cropping up with deadly intent. The natural savagery of uncontrolled wildfires capable of demolishing structures in swift fury given the prevailing conditions, only made it seem more horrendous that the devastation could have been deliberately caused, as acts of sabotage, arson from the hearts of those so deeply immersed in hatred that the consequences of their actions would seem inconsequential.
It's a sobering thought that such destructive power might owe its presence to human agency.
"It's safe to assume that whoever is setting the fires isn't doing it only out of pyromania. It's safe to assume that if it is arson, it is politically motivated", commented Israel's police chief Roni Alsheich, while announcing to the news media that arrests have been made; from all accounts sixteen in all, although the burden of proof may not be solid in all of these arrests. Even while the evidence in the form of video recordings will most likely stamp the seal of adequate evidence in some of the cases where arrests have been made of implicated individuals.
If Israelis are feeling embattled, they needn't, at this juncture feel internationally isolated. Offers of assistance have come in from some surprising sources, not only from the Middle East, but from eastern Europe and elsewhere, where Israel has established working relationships with other nations. The official Palestinian news agency WAFA, reported that the Palestinian Authority offered the aid of their own fire-fighting teams to flight the blazes. "A humanitarian gesture" according to to Yousef Nassar, director general of the Palestinian Civil Defence.
|A fire near Jerusalem. (Credit: Police Spokesperson's Unit)|
On the opposite side of the ledger, Arab social media has become infused with enthusiasm over the wildfires, wildly celebrating the destruction that has so far been reported and the threats to human life, taking immense pleasure in the spectacle of their perceived enemy desperately battling to save life and property from total ruination.