The massive wildfire that consumed much of the Carmel forest reserve earlier this month may have been started on accident, but the dozens of other fires that the authorities and media purposely kept quiet were part of what some are calling a new “arson uprising” against Israel.
While nearly all of Israel’s firefighters were battling the Carmel blaze, no fewer than 25 fires were purposely set in forested areas ranging from the northern town of Kiryat Shemonah to Jerusalem. The “Peace Forest” outside Jerusalem was targeted by arsonists at least 18 times over the past month.
Police officials told a reporter for Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper that the acts of arson were purposely kept quiet “so as not to prompt into action more potential terrorists.” There was great fear that Israeli Arab elements sympathetic to the “Palestinian cause” would take advantage of the Carmel fire to overwhelm the country’s security and rescue forces.
The Ma’ariv reporter declared the situation “a true intifada (uprising)” and lamented that it had not been reported to the nation. He suggested that the true reason the media kept the Arab arson offensive quiet “is that the Israeli press treats the Arabs of Israel as if they were spoiled children. They can inflict pain, hurl rocks and torch property, but no matter what, press rooms will still act as if insulting the Arabs is not politically correct.”
Fortunately, the heavy rain from last week and the rainfall expected this coming weekend will make arson a no-go for the time being. But this is a problem Israel will continue to face for the foreseeable future.