TEL AVIV – The so-called wave of terror sweeping Israel since last year has clearly morphed into the dangerous phenomenon we are currently witnessing in Israel – arson terrorism aimed at causing maximum casualties and damage across the Jewish state.
This “fire intifada” may have started after a natural fire broke out in Neve Shalom, a tiny northern Israel community made up of Jews and Arabs living together, although the origins of that blaze are not immediately clear. Another fire then hit the beach town of Atlit, also a haven for Jews and Arabs living side by side, followed by a major blaze that raged throughout the vicinity of Zichron Yaakov, the artist enclave and historic northern community that is one of my favorite weekend destinations.
Fires have since prompted the mass evacuation of 75,000 from Haifa, and firefighters are battling blazes across the country, including in Beit Meir on the Jerusalem hills and Kiryat Gat in the south.
It was almost immediately clear that Israel was most likely dealing with cases of arson, since the season’s dry conditions have not caused similar outbreaks in neighboring Egypt or Jordan, and the Palestinian communities in the West Bank have similarly been spared.
According to some news reports here, arson may be the cause of least 60 percent of the blazes, with anti-Israel nationalist motives suspected. The Israeli police have already made at least 13 arrests, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he is looking into the legal proceedings necessary to revoke the residency of anyone caught setting fires.
“A price will be paid for this arson-terrorism,” Netanyahu said on Friday, explaining the arsons were being carried out by “elements with great hostility toward Israel.”
Like much of the “wave of terror” – the series of seemingly lone-wolf attacks targeting Israelis this past year – the arson terrorists don’t seem to be directed by any one central jihadist organization or extremist group.
However, blame must be assigned where it is deserved. The Palestinian Authority’s murderous campaign of nonstop anti-Israel incitement in PA media and institutions clearly has had a significant impact. The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, an Arab-Israeli extremist organization led by hate preacher Raed Salah, has been inciting Arab-Israelis against Israel for far too long.
Arsonists may have been encouraged by the hate posts trending on Arab social media in which users have been cheering on the fires while demanding that Israel be burned down. Breitbart Jerusalem has been a leader in exposing these armchair anti-Semites as their incitement continues to ignite the Internet.
Like the killers in the Islamic State and scores of other jihadist organizations, it is notable that the arson terrorists here in Israel could care less whether they target Jews, Muslims or Christians, as indeed many of the Israeli towns and cities being devastated house residents from across Israel’s diverse population.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.