For the second straight Sunday, foreign anarchists and Palestinian Authority Arabs engaged in arson in a wooded area outside the Jewish town of Bat Ayin, in the Etzion Bloc (Gush Etzion) between Jerusalem and Hevron. While last week's incident was merely caught on tape (see video), the latest one ended with the arrest of five of the arsonists. These included foreign anarchists, PA Arabs and an Arab with Israeli citizenship.
Dov Barak, land inspector for the Etzion Bloc local authority, said that about 30 dunams (7-8 acres) of natural brush were burned in the latest attack.
Last week, observers said they believed the arson was being carried out in order to blame it on Jews later. However, Barak says the idea is more sophisticated. "The Palestinians have developed a system of taking over state lands,” he explained. “Backed up by foreign anarchists, they arrive at an area of virgin natural brush. Then they burn it intentionally and at the same time, they plant trees in order to create facts on the ground. Then the Civil Administration has a difficult time evicting them.”
"In the last few years, foreign leftists have increased their involvement in instigating ill-will between Palestinians and settlers, and I am sorry to say that the state and police are showing an inability to deal with the situation,” Barak added. “Even if they arrest the arsonists, they are released after a short time and go back to making trouble.”