What’s Behind the Fires Ravaging Israel, Iraq and Syria?

Israel isn’t the only country suffering from “pyro-terrorism” as jihadists turn to more primitive methods of attacking their foes

By Yochanan Visser | | Topics: Terrorism
Fires sparked by Hamas terror kites have devastated large swaths of land in southern Israel. Photo: Dario Sanchez/Flash90

Pyro-terrorism is a weapon Israel’s enemies use since the end of 2016 when the first wave of huge fires rocked the Jewish state destroying most of the Carmel Forest near Haifa.

The new trend continued when Hamas started the ‘Great March of Return’ in March 2018 and introduced the incendiary balloons and kites which were used to terrorize Israel’s southern regions.

The latest wave of blazes which plagued the Jewish state in May and destroyed the Jewish village Mevo Modiin and has now spread to Samaria and Judea was for a large part the work of arsonists as well.

The fire in Mevo Modiin left 50 families without a home and all their possessions while police and the Israeli fire brigade later determined the blaze was caused by arson.

Arson-terrorism has now also reached Samaria and Judea.

A huge blaze in the Jewish village of Carmei Tzur in central Judea which raged on Wednesday last week and reached the outskirts of the embattled community started after Palestinian Arab arsonists threw firebombs across the security fence, a member of the local security team told this reporter.

The source said that Palestinian Arabs routinely throw firebombs across the fence near the Hamas hotbed Beit Umar but this time they targeted the southwestern part of Carmei Tzur where there is no fence and where most people live in caravans.

The huge blaze in Carmei Tzur coincided with a large fire near the Jewish village of Itamar in central Samaria. Residents of Itamar claimed that the fire was the fourth attempt in as many days to destroy their community.

“This is the fourth fire to break out in 4 days, endangering residents and families, destroying years worth of work by farmers. The heart breaks,” Iyar Segal a resident of Itamar told Israeli media.

The media largely ignored these fires while the major news outlets in Israel blamed the wave of fires on the unprecedented heat wave which hit the Jewish state in May. Only the state-funded broadcaster KAN reported about the real reason for the wave of fires.

KAN said “hundreds of the fires in the last weeks in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh area were a result of arson.”

The terror watchdog group Boomerang, furthermore, released a new video documenting the number of fires that firefighters fought since November 2016: a whopping 1,773 (Gaza-belt not included).

Firefighter Ron Shlaf, who was a prominent member of the team that investigated the wave of fires, said that there’s no doubt about what caused the bulk of the blazes.

“Yes. We’ve faced arson terror. There is no dilemma or doubt about it. All the villages that were burned were Jewish and all those arrested or prosecuted were Arabs. And from a thorough investigation we conducted, no one else in the Middle East – including the Palestinians – experienced such an extreme wave of fires like we experienced,” Shlaf told Boomerang.

Shlaf’s team investigated 80 large fires since 2016 and came to the conclusion that 71 of them were the work of arson terrorists.

As for Gaza, since the beginning of the ‘Great March of Return’ the incendiary balloons and kites have caused more than 2,000 fires in southern Israel which destroyed 35,000 dunams or 8,500 acres of forests, nature reserves and agricultural fields.

The use of pyro-terror has now spread to other parts of the Middle East.

The Jihadist ISIS terror group has instructed its members to destroy the first major harvests of crops in Iraq and Syria since years by using scorched earth tactics.

Since the beginning of May, tens of thousands of acres of farmland have been burned across territory stretching from the Iranian border in Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea coast in northwest Syria.

The fires are visible from satellites and caused the loss of income for farmers who have already suffered years of deprivation and displacement.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the wave of arson terror in both Iraq and Syria.

“The harvest season is still long, and we tell the soldiers of the Caliphate: you have before you millions of dunams of land planted with wheat and barley, which are owned by apostates,” said the group in a statement which was published in the al-Naba newsletter.

Israel, meanwhile, could have found the solution to the ‘Kite Jihad’ as some call it.

The Israeli military is currently being equipped with the Smash 2000 anti-drone system.

The system has been developed by Israeli start-up Smart Shooter and enables the average IDF soldier to hit fast moving targets on the ground and in the air by using his own M-16 or Tavor rifle.

Smash 2000 had been developed to take down drones but can also be used to neutralize incendiary balloons and kites the company said.

The combination of simple hardware and advanced image-processing software of Smash 2000 turns virtually every soldier with basic weapons into a sharpshooter, with the first round out of every rifle hitting its target, The Jerusalem Post reported last week.

Smash 2000 “calculates the target’s movement and predicts its next location using advanced image processing and algorithms. SMASH 2000 prevents the bullet from being fired until the target is precisely in its crosshairs,” according to JPost.

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