Investigators rule fires in Haifa were arson

Police and firefighting investigation reveals that the fires which threatened Haifa were set deliberately and were nationally motivated.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Hezki Baruch

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and government ministers were updated on the investigation of the police and the fire department into the spate of fires which have raged across the country over the past week, Channel 10 reported.

The investigation concluded that the fires affecting Haifa were started through nationally motivated arson.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri told Army Radio Sunday: "Anyone caught deliberately setting fires for nationalist motives - I will personally revoke their residency status."

"It is impossible for a country to turn the other cheek to those who attempt to harm its people." Deri said. "I believe that this is the greatest deterrent against them or against the families which send their children [to carry out these attacks] instead of [sending them to] school."

President Reuven Rivlin said during a visit to the fire-ravaged town of Nataf near Jerusalem that “terrorism is terrorism is terrorism wherever it strikes,” and that it must be dealt with in the most severe manner that the law allows.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that the arsonists should be sentenced to life in prison and that the government should consider demolishing their houses. He said that those who seek to destroy the houses of Israeli citizens through arson should consider that their own houses could be destroyed. Erdan praised the government's decision to bring the Boeing 747 Supertanker to aid Israel's firefighting forces.

Between 600-700 homes in Haifa were destroyed by the fires, which forced about 85,000 of the city's residents to evacuate. At least 180 people suffered injuries, mostly from smoke inhalation. The damage to the environment is vast, but cannot yet be assessed. Israelis were appalled at films of dead animals, such as clusters of dead turtles in burned down wooded areas, shown on Israeli television.