MembersWar by Fire

The hundreds of fires that broke out in late November prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare that “arson is terror in every way and we’ll treat it as such.”

By Tsvi Sadan |
THE POWER OF THE MATCH: Arson is a century-old Palestinian weapon Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90

That doesn’t mean all of the fires were set deliberately, but it does mean that there were enough to merit the notion of “arsonist terror.”


The unprecedented devastation left behind by the fires—over 700 homes damaged or destroyed and a large part of one Jewish settlement virtually wiped out—demonstrates the power of the humble match box. Those in Israel who follow the history of nationalistically-motivated arson know that for many decades Arabs have used fire as a weapon against the Jewish nation.


Arson attacks have occurred time and again since at least the 1920s, with Israel’s governments routinely failing to deal effectively with the phenomenon. It is only the magnitude of the 2016 fires that has literally forced Israel to publicly acknowledge a well-known problem.


Back in 2008, Colonel (Reserves) Jonathan Fighel outlined what he dubbed “The Forest Jihad” at the annual gathering of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya. Fighel’s presentation coincided...

Israel Today Membership

Become a Member

  • Read all member content

    Get exclusive in-depth reports from Israel.

  • Get exclusive in-depth reports from Israel

    Connect with Israel, right from your home.

  • Lift up the voice of truth and hope

    Support Jerusalem-based Zionist journalism.

Already a member? .