Photo Credit: Meir Vaknin / Flash 90
Smoke billows over the city of Haifa, where a major fire raged on November 24, 2016.

The idea of attacking a targeted population by setting fire to the area — while primitive — is not at all new. Arabs from the Palestinian Authority have used such methods before to attack Israel, but the idea did not originate with them.

The English-language Inspire Magazine published in 2012 by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) devoted much of its ninth issue to the topic of arson as a method of terrorism, albeit aimed at the United States.

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At that time, the magazine detailed specific instructions on how to start forest fires, including listing the materials required for such a project.

The magazine’s readers were advised to wait for the two most important weather factors required for a successful wildfire: dry conditions and high winds.

Israeli winters often begin with both, particularly in the past few years, when drought has struck the region more often than not. The longer the Jewish State goes without rain, the higher the risk of such an attack.

Senior Haifa district firefighter Shimon Ben Ner told Galei Tzahal Army Radio in an interview, “I know for a fact [terrorists] deliberately tried to set fire to the fire station in Haifa to paralyze the department.”

More than 250 fires raged across the country on Thursday alone, with social media filled with many who were celebrating in Arabic with hashtags such as #IsraelBurns, and #IsraelisBurning. The recent law to restrict public calls to Islamic prayer via the muezzin loudspeakers, particularly at 3 and 4 am, has sparked additional rage among radical Islamists, who claim the flames are “ignited by Allah.”

Some 80,000 residents were forced to leave their homes in the face of the flames in the port city of Haifa and surrounds. More than 100 people were treated for smoke inhalation at city hospitals; one elderly woman remained in fair condition. Untold damage has been caused to the nation’s flora, fauna and forestland; officials have not even begun to estimate the amount of destruction caused to Israelis and their homeland.

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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.