A group of Arabs and left-wing provocateurs entered the Jewish town of Eli on Tuesday and started several fires, which subsequently spread to their own nearby olive groves.
The incident, which occurred Tuesday morning, is not the first in which Arabs from the adjacent village of Karayut have infiltrated Eli's perimeter to commit arson according to security officials who went to investigate the fire.
“We saw smoke near our security road shortly after 11:00 and went to investigate,” related a security official from Eli who spoke to Israel National News on condition of anonymity.
“At first we saw nothing to say the fire was man made, but we suspected arson because it is an area where fires have been set to damage our security equipment in the past. Then we saw a second fire, closer to Karayut, which is about 500 meters away from Eli,” the official explained.
Eli's security team reportedly raced to the scene of the second blaze to find that the flames were spreading to Arab olive groves and advancing on the village of Karayut itself.
“We went to the site of the second fire and immediately saw it was arson – tires had been set on fire – and that it had spread into the olive groves and was advancing on the [Arab] village itself. There were Arabs and leftists who were there before us but who were standing around filming [the fire] instead of trying to put it out,” the security official explained.
According to the official, Karayut's Muktar [village elder -ed.] arrived with leftist supporters and proceeded to blame the residents of Eli for setting the olive groves on fire, all the while watching Eli's security team fight to put the fire out.
“The local muktar brought his B'tzelem [leftist NGO -ed.] friends and stood around doing nothing while we put the fire out. Of course, he blamed us – the people from Eli – for the fire. That was the plan. No one from Eli has a reason to be out there [in the Arab groves], or to start a fire,” the security official told INN.
“We have a very sophisticated radar system around the perimeter [of Eli]. We reviewed the logs and no one from Eli had gone out there,” he added.
The IDF spokesperson's office declined to comment on the incident saying it was a matter for the Israeli Police.
“They [the Police] came,” the official related to INN. “But... they weren't very thorough. They came and went.”
Binyamin Regional Council Chairman Avi Roeh condemned the event as a reckless media stunt using arson that could have ended in a loss of human life.
"Today's event could have led to the loss of lives, both Jewish and Arab, and I condemn those who lit the fire and am shocked villagers would risk their lives simply to create a media event, in order to portray the Jewish residents in a negative light. At the same time, I commend Eli's security team for preventing a tragedy," Roeh said.
Standing and watching....
Just taking pictures....
Arab villager films as his village's crops burn...