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 Muslm.net (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.