Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Forest fire in Judean Hills.

Israeli officials are reconsidering the cause of the sudden appearance of the numerous wildfires this weekend — heat wave notwithstanding — in the wake of a blatant arson this weekend by Palestinian Authority Arabs at a memorial for Hebron terror victim Yossi Shok over the weekend.

The father of five died in a blaze of gunfire near Beit Haggai south of Hebron on December 16, 2005 when his car was ambushed in a terror attack as he drove along the road. It’s not the first time that particular memorial has been set afire; in fact, Shok’s memorial has been torched numerous times by Arab terrorists in the area.

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Beit Haggai itself stands as a testament to the tenacity of those whose will to survive and thrive in the Hebron Hills is stronger than that of Arabs who are so desperate to wipe them out.

The community, established in 1989, was named for three Ner Yeshiva (Kiryat Arba) rabbinical students who were killed in a terror attack on May 2, 1980. The acronym of the three names of the boys – Hanan Krauthammer, Gershon Klein, and Yaakov Zimmerman – was used to create the name of the new community, Beit HaGaI, which lies within the legal municipal jurisdiction of the Mt. Hebron Regional Council.

But that fire was one of half a dozen that lit up the skies around central Israel on Sunday (August 2). Investigators are now paying close attention to the question of whether the blazes were deliberately set by Arab arsonists.

A similar collection of wildfires ringed the capital just before the start of the Sabbath a week ago.

More than 150 firefighters and volunteers fought the entire day along with firefighting aircraft and ground crews in order to extinguish one of the blazes — the largest since the 2010 Carmel forest fire — that ate up nearly 2,000 dunam of forestland around the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh.

Sunday’s fires were also ignited in numerous different directions, all of which were concentrated in the Judean Hills, Samaria and Mt. Hebron areas.

Among the communities affected were the Jerusalem suburb of Even Sapir, where 700 residents were evacuated from their homes in the face of the flames — several homes actually burned in the community — and the Samaria community of Elon Moreh, which was also struck last weekend as well. Fires also raged in an area between the Judean communities of Beitar Illit and Tzur Hadassah, close to where a similar fire was set in June.

 

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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