If Palestinians set some of the fires, it would be a new and potentially disruptive tactic in a long-simmering conflict.
In the past, Jewish extremists have used fires in the West Bank to torment Palestinians, setting olive fields and vehicles ablaze. In the worst such episode, in July 2015, a baby was killed and his parents later died of their injuries after arsonists set their home ablaze in Duma, a West Bank village.
I already showed that Arabs had been using systematic arson against Jewish forests and fields as early as the 1930s. But they continued that tactic for decades afterwards. The ICT describes the tactic as it was used during the first intifada :
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, arson comprised about one-third of all forest fires in Israel, which is a very large proportion. Some of the sources of this arson were identified as the work of criminals, whose sole aim was to collect the insurance money. However, many instances of arson in the late 1980s were directly related to the Palestinian uprising (the first Intifada). Palestinians have used arson in the past as an insurgency method, as early as the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, but in the 1980s it was adopted as a highly visible action against Israel. Arson was found to be easy to execute: all one had to do was cross the old border between the West Bank and Israel, which was unguarded and open to all, start a fire in one of the many forests in the hilly areas near the border, and then disappear. According to the International Forest Fire News (IFFN), between 1988 and 1991 the number of fires attributed to arson rose to over 30%, which was explained by an increase in politically motivated arson associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
There were frequent occurrences of forest fires in areas adjacent to the old “Green Line” border between Israel and the West Bank, during the years 1988-1990. Between 288 and 388 forest fires were caused by arson, which occurred in areas near the old pre-1967 border. In some of the fires, which occurred in northern Israel, Israeli Arab Palestinians were found to be responsible. These fires were extraordinary, given the fact that in 1988, there was a great deal of rain and, as a result, the vegetation was highly combustible.
The Intifada militants also began to systematically burn Israeli fields, orchards and forests, and whilst no lives were lost, considerable damage was caused. Interviews conducted in 1988 with local Fatah leaders from the Tulkarem region, revealed that forests were regarded as the Israel government’s property and were therefore a symbol deserving of arson. Setting fires was employed as a tactic, politically motivated, aimed at damaging Israel’s economy and exhausting its resources. The Palestinian propaganda increased the perception that forests were used intensively by the State of Israel as a “political tool”, to mark its presence on the ground along the “Green Line”, in order to underline its existing borders after the 1948 war and the creation of the State of Israel, which the Palestinians totally rejected (until the Oslo Accords in 1993).
During the initial Intifada period, Palestinians started dozens of Israeli forest fires, some quite extensive, intentionally as acts of arson for political reasons. The evidence is overwhelming that these were deliberate acts of political sabotage and Palestinian arsonists have been apprehended as a result. The Israeli police have apprehended Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in the act of setting fires, while others confessed to arson after their arrest.
Some fires followed specific calls by underground Palestinian terror organizations to torch forests, and cause economic damage to Israel and its symbols. Incidents of arson proliferated during the period of the first Intifada, the inciting rhetoric was often disseminated in the leaflets, praising arson and call upon Palestinians to burn the land from underneath the Jews.
Some fires followed specific calls by underground Palestinian terror groups. The instances of arson carried out by the Palestinians were in accordance with the instructions issued by the underground leadership,”The Unified National Command of the Uprising ”(Al- Qiyada Al- Wataniyya Al- Muwahada lil-Intifada-Arabic) which published leaflets providing information and instructions to the population. Typewritten leaflets were distributed across the West Bank and Gaza with instructions for action to be taken against Israel.
Moreover, even though Diaa Hadid is vastly exaggerating the number of times Jews have actually used arson in the West Bank, if she is going to expand the definition beyond setting fields on fire and include torching buildings, surely she cannot be unaware that there are over 100 firebombs hurled at Israelis and their property every single month.
This is more than sloppy reporting. This is an attempt to whitewash the truth.
(h/t kweansmom, Yoel)
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.