Jews and PA Arabs Join Forces

PA Arabs joined Jews to fight a fire at the site of the Tabernacle in Samaria that preceded the Temple. Firefighter: “Obama, leave us in peace."

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 00:10

Shiloh blaze
Shiloh blaze
Israel news photo: Shiloh resident David Lev

Palestinian Authority Arabs and Jews in Samaria worked together Monday to fight a fire that threatened to wreak irreparable damage at the site of the Biblical era temple at Shiloh.

The fire was sparked by a failure in electrical cables that were in use for maintenance work on Highway 60, the major north-south highway in Judea and Samaria. The Arabs, who were working on building projects at the adjacent town of Shiloh, joined the Jewish firefighters and battled thick smoke for two hours until they were able to overcome the fire.

It reached the site of the ancient  Tabernacle, which served as the temporary Temple and stood for 369 years before being destroyed. The Jewish People eventually built the first permanent Holy Temple in Jerusalem during King Solomon's time and began rebuilding it 70 years after its destruction by the Babylonian army. The Second Temple, too, was destroyed, in 70 C.E. by the Roman army.

The presence of Arabs, who risk their lives by even working for Jewish employers despite new Palestinian Authority legislation outlawing the practice, demonstrated the ability of both Jews and Arab to join forces, when not threatened by terrorist groups, Shiloh residents said. Among similar joint efforts in the past year, Arabs helped save Jews in eastern Gush Etzion after their vehicle caught on fire.

“Today’s joint firefighting effort is proof that U.S. President Barack Obama should leave us alone and let us live our lives in peace,” one firefighter told Israel National News.

The fire burned bushes and shrubbery, but the firefighters, aided by a single fire truck, were able to save most of the trees in the area. The blaze spread quickly because the trees were still dry from the long and hot summer.

The volunteers used rubber brooms as the flames licked their feet and blistered their hands. One Jewish firefighter said, “This amazing experience serves as a reminder that given the chance, local inhabitants can overcome major obstacles working together, and that the real flames of war are spread through malicious interfering outsiders.”

Terrorist attacks, including rock-throwing and firebomb attacks, have overshadowed joint Arab-Jewish efforts, but both Jews and Arabs recall the pre-Intifada period when the Arab economy flourished and Jews often shopped in Arab villages and cities, where they now are usually prohibited.