The Israeli media and politicians’ narrative of a Palestinian ‘arson intifada’ remains in place, despite there not being even a shred of evidence to support their story.
Over the last couple of days several people have sent me an article by Kalman Liebskind from last Friday’s Ma’ariv newspaper, which cited statistics from Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services on the wave of fires that swept Israel at the end of November. The piece claimed that almost all the fires investigated by the authorities were due to arson. Given how I wrote at the time that there were no known facts to suggest that the fires were entirely — or even mostly — due to a “fire intifada” or “arson terror,” as they were being dubbed by Israeli politicians and the media, people wanted to know my thoughts on the latest figures. So I thought it would be worthwhile setting a few things straight.
First of all, I didn’t say at the time, nor am I claiming now, that there are not and have never been cases of nationalistic arson. It’s absolutely possible that there have been, and in certain instances (almost all of them over the Green Line, in the occupied Palestinian territories that are under a military regime) it’s very likely that nationalistic arson has occurred.
But as of now, there is not even a single person who has been arrested and charged with nationalistic arson, there is no clear evidence of such activity, and no one who was arrested and indicted on arson charges (all of them Arabs, by the way), is suspected of acting out of nationalistic motives. The new statistics published in the Ma’ariv article don’t change any of this.
Let’s look at the figures themselves — which, it must be noted, are still not sufficiently clear. The article talks about 71 incidents of arson that were investigated, out of 80. But what proportion of the fires did these 80 cases of arson represent? Wikipedia says that there were over 1,700 fires in Israel during that period, so 80 is a rather small minority. A figure of 39 large fires was mentioned in Ha’aretz last week, but how many lesser fires were there? (By the way, Ha’aretz revealed last week that in response to a freedom of information request to the Fire and Rescue Services, they were told there...Read More