Right-Wing Politicians Incite over Wave of Fires, Alleging “Terrorism”

 Far-right Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett charged on Thursday, November 24, that many of the fires blazing in numerous locations across Israel for the last two day are the result of arson, and called them “terrorism in every sense of the word.” Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “every fire that is the result of arson or incitement to arson is terror in every way and we’ll treat it as such,” adding that “anyone who tries to burn down parts of the State of Israel will be severely punished.”

Hadash MK Ayman Odeh (head of the Joint List) interviewed on TV from Haifa, on Thursday, November 24

Hadash MK Ayman Odeh (head of the Joint List) interviewed on TV from Haifa, on Thursday, November 24 (Footage: Channel 2 News)

An hour after Bennett’s remarks, Hadash MK Ayman Odeh (Joint List) hit back at right-wing politicians for suggesting that the fires had been intentionally set by Arabs. Odeh urged any people responsible for arson to stop such acts immediately and called any such individuals “the enemies of us all.” Odeh, the head of the Joint List Knesset faction, said: “To my regret, someone has decided to exploit this dreadful situation to incite against and lash out at an entire community… Whoever loves our homeland has to focus right now on putting out the fires and helping the injured, and not fanning hatred.”

“None of us knows exactly what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t know if the arsonists are Arab or not. If that is the case, they should be severely punished… We’re all in this together to save this beautiful place – I’m from Haifa and the Carmel, and the main thing now is to save it,” he added.

Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) rejected “with disgust” such accusations and called on Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to “behave responsibly and halt the wave of incitement they’re feeding. Every plot of land in this homeland is in our hearts, and we deplore any damage to it and its people… These accusations are arrogant and irresponsible and constitute dangerous and wild incitement against the Arab public,” Jabareen continued. “There are fires in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm and in Wadi Ara as well, and the fires in Haifa don’t distinguish between Jews and Arabs. We now need a unifying discourse instead of sowing hatred and incitement.”

According to Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav: “Now we must link arms, no matter if we are Jews or Arabs: Haifa and the Carmel belong to all of us. We should stop inciting and join hands, whatever our nationality. Sane Arabs and Jews know that I’m talking from the heart. Enough with the incitement, plain and simple! We need to behave responsibly now.” While no serious injuries have been reported in the last days, dozens of people have been hospitalized for smoke inhalation. The inferno started early on Tuesday at Neve Shalom / Wahat al-Salam (Oasis of Peace), a community on the outskirts of Jerusalem in which Arabs and Jews live together.