Terrorist elements are responsible for starting a series of fires which have engulfed Isreal in recent days, according to Israeli officials.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured Israelis that those responsible for setting the blaze would be brought to justice.
“It’s a crime for all intents and purposes and in our opinion it is terror for all intents and purposes,” said Netanyahu while visiting the Israeli city of Haifa Thursday. He added that the perpetrators may have been incited to set the fires, but did not note who may be responsible.
Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, endured the most damage from the blaze. Dry conditions and windy weather spread the flames through the city’s northern neighborhoods, forcing residents to flee the area.
Ofir Gendelman, Netanyahu’s spokesman for Arab media, tweeted several pictures of the fires, which show the flames and smoke covering the sky. He noted that some Arabs and Palestinians praised the fires.
“Arabs [and] Palestinians on social media rejoice over the wildfires that have erupted across Israel,” said Gendelman. “Despicable fanatic hatred.”
The first fires were reported Tuesday. Approximately 700 homes are believed to have been damaged in the attack, with 400 described as unlivable and 37 completely destroyed. More than 60,000 people were evacuated from the city in response, though officials allowed them to return Friday afternoon. The evacuation is believed to be the largest in Israeli history.
The Israeli housing ministry set up a hotline for citizens affected by the fires, available by phone by dialing *6266 or on the Hebrew Facebook page New Amidar.
Arson would represent a new tactic in anti-Israel terrorism, if terrorists are indeed responsible. Regular stabbings are the current favored tactic of Palestinian terrorists.
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