Sunday 5 December 2010

The Israel Inferno

I have just returned from Israel where the worst fire in Israel’s history had destroyed 12,000 acres of forest, just under half of the entire Carmel forest reserve. As I write, the fire is still blazing but it is hoped that Israeli fire fighters will put out the blaze tonight. According to the Jewish National Fund it will take decades to rehabilitate the area.

Aid has come from the USA, Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Jordan, Egypt and Australia, and even the Palestinian Authority sent a token detachment of three fire engines to help put out the inferno.

The fire has claimed the lives of 42 people, including 36 prison guards whose bus was en route to a local prison that was being threatened by the fire and needed to be evacuated.

An editorial in Palestine Today stated: “We have to tell you how happy our Palestinian people are at the killing 40 Zionist wardens burned to death,” referring to the Israeli prison guards who were burned to death while trying to reach a prison that was under threat from the flames.

The editorial continued: “Many lessons will be learned from this ‘divine fire’, and the lesson that is most prominent is that the demise of this [Zionist] entity is just a matter of time.”

A survey of Arab media outlets by Jerusalem Post journalist Khaled Abu Toameh revealed that in surrounding Muslim countries the fire was seen as Allah’s judgment on Israel. Readers of those media outlets urged Allah to continue and intensify this punishment, and encouraged Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas to take advantage of the situation and attack Israel.

A typical comment was: “Thank Allah for this new Holocaust. Thank God for burning the Jews the same way they burned our Muslim brothers in Palestine [sic].”

Another urged Hizbullah, Hamas and all Arabs to see the fire as a “golden opportunity to get rid of Israel. The sea and fire are in front of the Jews and weapons are behind them.”

Another praised Allah for the fire, calling on his Palestinian brothers to set fire to all forests in Israel.

Commentators on the Arabic web forum (not a typo) posted photographs of Israelis burned to death in the fire with captions reading “Allah is Great!” and hailing the disastrous wildfire as a gift from Allah.

Nevertheless, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer his personal condolences. Fayyad also sent three Palestinian fire engines to fight the fire.

Sadly, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of Israel’s most senior religious figures, called the fire a divine visitation on the nation for not observing Shabbat.


  1. Hello Mike It is of course tragic that people died in this fire and no one should rejoice at the deaths of anyone. But is there a place for seeing this as a 'sign of Elijah.' ?

    As you know Elijah called fire down from heaven in challenge to Ahab's priests of Baal - on Mt Carmel.
    Andrew Sibley

  2. There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

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  4. Mike - I don't that passage says what you want it to say - in fact it says the opposite. Presumably you think I am judging those 40 who died, but that is not my position - I am asking whether the fire is a sign irrespective of whether people died. I don't wish to see the death of anyone, but Jesus words are a warning for all to repent and turn to him.

  5. Andrew, are the deaths of 13 people in Britain because of the extreme cold and snow also a judgement from God?

    Before you answer that question, imagine if the French press began cooing over the deaths of these thirteen Brits, and Le Monde began priniting editorials praising God for sending the snow and ice.

    Would you try and rationalise that kind of theology also, insisting that snow is also a judgement from God?

    Because it seems that's what you're doing here with Israel.

    Joseph W

  6. Andrew, I think Luke 13 has everything to do with the point you were making. You can’t separate the fire from its consequences, as you recognise when you said it was “tragic that people died in this fire”. You then say, ‘BUT is there a place for seeing this as a ‘sign of Elijah.’ ?
    Perhaps in your haste you didn’t express yourself as clearly as you should have but in view of the fact that Elijah called down fire to burn up people as well as to consume the sacrifice on the altar.
    As I said, I think Luke 13 is very apposite to your question.

  7. So presumably God is more angry with America and Australia with their more frequent and powerful forest fires than He is with Israel!?