More than 200 wildfires have raged across Israel for the past two days. Rekindled by high winds as soon as firefighters fight the flames, they are not yet contained.
Last night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu confirmed evidence of arson in several places.
Israel's Public Security Minister, Gilead Erdan, along with Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh have made the decision to post soldiers, police and border guards in open areas around towns, villages and communities in order to secure them against further arson attacks and catch the perpetrators.
Police are investigating the wholesale outbreaks of wildfire in widely separate spots, causing extensive damage to homes and buildings.
In central and eastern Israel, thousands of people fled their homes ahead of the flames that consumed all their possessions. Whole streets and neighborhoods up and down the country have been destroyed. Damage is initially estimated at NIS 50 million ($12 million dollars).
Responding to Israel’s appeal, Russia, Croatia, Italy, Greece and Cyprus are sending six planes to support Israel’s own fleet of aerial firefighters. The first are due to land this morning.
Israel asked Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Turkey for extra planes in order to reinforce Israel’s own fleet of aerial firefighter planes. The gusty winds and exceptionally dry weather have kept sparks flying and reignited blazes in many places after it seemed they were under control. Weather conditions feeding the fires are forecast to continue up until the weekend.
Zichron Yaacov, south of Haifa in northern Israel, was the first victim. An entire neighborhood of small homes in a wooded area was burned to the ground.
Hundreds of miles to the south and east, Dolev, 6 kilometers north of Ramallah, was evacuated as homes were enveloped in flames. There, surveillance cameras captured arsonists at work. Back to the west of Jerusalem, in the small community of Nataf, buildings were emptied as fires erupted there.
Last night, Wednesday, flames shot into the sky from Reut, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Back to the northwest, in Galilee, a forest fire reached the small community of Gilon and forced its evacuation. Tuesday night, 13 bush fires were extinguished in northern Israel.
During the day, the IDF Home Front called up reservists to back up the fire brigades and police who are operating at full stretch up and down the country.
While hot, dry winds sweep across the entire region this week, Israel is the only country to have been plagued by nationwide wildfires.
Across the Green Line, not a single Palestinian town or village has been affected.
Suspicion of organized arson is under intense investigation. Primary suspects are Palestinian extremists, who may have come up with a new form of terror from which is easy for the culprit to escape undetected.
Meanwhile, across social media, Islamists are celebrating the flames, mocking Israelis as they fight them and calling the fires judgment from Allah.
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by DEBKAfile at http://debka.com/article/25791/Terror-by-arson-alleged-in-200-Israel-wildfires-