Chairman of the Joint Arab List MK Ayman Odeh on Monday demanded that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit investigate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for encouraging anti-Arab incitement during the wave of fires that plagued Israel a week ago.
Speaking to a meting of his Knesset faction, Odeh said, “The Arab public continues to deal with the wave of incitement and igniting hatred by Netanyahu and his ministers during the fires.”
“Today everybody understands that the mountain gave birth to a tiny mouse,” Odeh continued. “There was no wave of terror, no arson intifada. If they find one or two [Arabs] who are guilty, our position is that they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, but a wave of terror? Everyone knows there’s no such thing.”
In reality, Netanyahu, who was widely rebuked for warning rightwing voters they must hit the polls on election day in 2015 because the Arabs are bringing busloads to vote, did not actually accuse Arabs or even mention them in connection with the recent fires. Speaking at a press conference at an airforce base up north, the PM warned that “whomever tries to burn the State of Israel will be punished severely.”
“They arrested people left and right, but they never investigated the thousands of Jews who incited and called for the murder of Arabs,” Odeh charged on Monday, and informed his fellow MKs that “the Joint List has decided to appeal to the Attorney General – we accuse the prime minister of racist incitement and call on the AG to launch an investigation.”
During the week of wild fires police arrested 30 Arab suspects and detained 24 for extended interrogations. In the end it turned out that some of the suspects’ activity was limited to praising the acts of arson and calling for additional ones, but fell short of actually setting fires. It is expected that about half a dozen suspects will be prosecuted.
It should be noted that, according to fire forensic experts, it is very difficult to find hard evidence for arson in open air areas, since the fire and the wind devour traces of intentionally set fires – unlike indoor fires, which can be traced more easily. Experts usually seek more than one concurrent focal point to a forest fire as an indication of arson.David Israel