“On Thursday morning, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio that 50% of these fires were caused by repeated arson.”
The fires that have burned across Israel since Tuesday continue to rage, with new areas threatened by flames as other blazes have come under control.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police announced Thursday afternoon that they have detained a number of suspects on suspicion of arson.
Channel 2 reported that some 60,000 residents have been evacuated from the Haifa area in light of fires in the northern port city, according to police estimates as of Thursday afternoon. According to latest figures, there were 30 reports of light injury due to smoke inhalation.
The University of Haifa was also evacuated on as a precautionary move as fires raged closer.
Police Chief Roni Alsheich said on Thursday that only those in neighborhoods affected should leave their homes, in order to leave important traffic arteries free for those who need to evacuate quickly, as well as for the use of emergency services.
Alsheich said residents in neighborhoods which are in need of evacuation would receive automatic SMS notifications.
He added that not all fires will be connected to arson, and said that these rumors will only strengthen the hand of those who seek to cause more terror.
That is true, but at the height of fire season when many fires are already burning, setting new ones increases the risk and the damage exponentially.
New York Times...
Asked how long Haifa was likely to be battling the blazes, Mayor Yona Yahav told reporters, “This is a question that has to be referred to God.”
Israeli officials said the fires had been fanned by unusually strong winds and made worse by a dry atmosphere, but they also said they suspected that many of them had been caused by arson and negligence. Dozens of people have been slightly affected by smoke inhalation, but no serious injuries or fatalities have been reported.
We Christians should be praying for the winds to abate and for rain to sweep across Israel. Please join me in that prayer right now. Lord, I pray for the winds to drop or to reverse and blow the fires back onto themselves. I also pray for a cool, damp weather system to settle upon Israel for a couple days regardless of how unlikely that is. Glorify Yourself, Lord.