Press Low-Key on Wave of Arson by Israel's Arabs

Reports of celebratory horn-honking in Arab Israeli towns and arson attempts downplayed. Graphic videos and photos of victims posted online.

Contact Editor
Gil Ronen, | updated: 15:29

IAF footage of suspected arsonists.
IAF footage of suspected arsonists.
Israel news photo: Screenshot

Police and volunteers are manning checkpoints, lookouts and ambushes throughout Israel in an effort to combat a wave of terrorist arson by Arab citizens of Israel. While occasionally reporting some of the arson incidents, most news sources are playing them down considerably, while others cover them up completely.

The IDF has released video footage shot from an IAF aircraft, which shows a vehicle escaping from the scene of an arson attack on the Carmel Mountain. The conversation on the radio, in Hebrew, is between pilots and police. The pilots report that they have received word from a firefighting aircraft that spotted the vehicle leaving the scene of an act of arson, near a spot called the Muhraka. The aircraft follows the vehicle – a Renault Kangoo – until it is stopped by police cars.

Despite this video, news of the wave of arson is seeping into the public consciousness mostly through smaller news sources and by word of mouth.

Police said the main conflagration in the Carmel Mountains was unintentionally caused by a group of youth from Ossafiya. According to a report on Channel 2 news, the youths lit a fire as part of a nocturnal picnic and did not put it out properly before leaving the site. Later reports said that while most of the residents of Ossafiya are Druze, the youths who were arrested are Arabs.

News1 said that insurance companies were heartened by this news, because if they can prove in court that the fire was an act of terrorism, the state will pay the victims' compensation instead of them. 

Channel 2's website also carries a report that Border Police arrested two Arabs, one an Israeli citizen and the other from the Palestinian Authority, who tried to start a fire near Jerusalem on Saturday night. The two were caught in a ravine near the “tunnels checkpoint” at the entrance to the neighborhood of Gilo.

Citizens who passed through the checkpoint noticed the suspects and reported their activity to security forces. A Border Police team identified the two trying to set a fire, called on them to stop and fired four shots in the air. The suspects tried to escape in a vehicle but were arrested after a short chase.

A short time later, a 34-year-old Arab man was arrested near Dodge Junction close to Nazareth. He was taken to interrogation. 

The volunteer “New HaShomer” land security group also placed ambushes in key locations. On Friday it reported several arrests, via text messages that it sent to its volunteer guards.

The News1 website reported that Radio Haifa interviewed several people who witnessed car horn-honking and other acts of public celebration in the Arab village of Furadis, south of Haifa, after news of the tragedy became known Thursday.

According to the report, Arab citizens uploaded to a Facebook account gruesome photographs of charred bodies of victims. Other Arabs expressed their feelings by clicking “like.” The police are said to be investigating the matter and the Facebook page is said to have been closed.

However, the pictures have already begun making the rounds worldwide. A group called “Mujahedeen of Palestine,” identified with Al-Qaeda, put the pictures of the bodies on a YouTube video. The video includes text that says “Muhammad's lions” came out at night to set alight the land of the “occupiers.”








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