An Israel Fire Department official told Army Radio on Thursday that exhausted firefighters across the country continue to battle “hundreds of fires.”
Strong winds and unseasonably dry weather small brush fires to become raging wildfires in a number of locations from the Galilee to the northern Negev.
Thousands of Israelis have been evacuated from their homes and schools as fires encroach on local communities and heavy smoke fills the air. In at least one town, Zichron Ya’akov, several homes suffered severe fire damage and numerous parked vehicles were destroyed.
Israeli officials are increasingly convinced that at least some of the fires are the work of arsonists. “I know for a fact that they tried to set fire to the department’s station in Haifa deliberately to cause the Haifa fire department to be paralyzed,” local firefighter Shimon Ben Ner told Army Radio.
“There is no doubt that this is terror activity whose aim is to damage the State of Israel and the beautiful landscapes that it is building,” Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan told Arutz 7. “I have no doubt that we’re talking about terror. They’re lighting fires next to Jewish communities which are now in danger.”
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