Wednesday, June 06, 2018

  • Wednesday, June 06, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
There is nothing new about using fires for terror. Palestinians in fact innovated the practice.

Here is some background on Palestinian use of fires as a weapon of terror written in 2009:

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, arson comprised about one-third of all forest fires in Israel, which is a very large proportion. Some of the sources of this arson were identified as the work of criminals, whose sole aim was to collect the insurance money. However, many instances of arson in the late 1980s were directly related to the Palestinian uprising (the first Intifada). Palestinians have used arson in the past as an insurgency method, as early as the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, but in the 1980s it was adopted as a highly visible action against Israel. Arson was found to be easy to execute: all one had to do was cross the old border between the West Bank and Israel, which was unguarded and open to all, start a fire in one of the many forests in the hilly areas near the border, and then disappear. According to the International Forest Fire News (IFFN), between 1988 and 1991 the number of fires attributed to arson rose to over 30%, which was explained by an increase in politically motivated arson associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[7]

There were frequent occurrences of forest fires in areas adjacent to the old "Green Line" border between Israel and the West Bank, during the years 1988-1990. Between 288 and 388 forest fires were caused by arson, which occurred in areas near the old pre-1967 border.[8] In some of the fires, which occurred in northern Israel, Israeli Arab Palestinians were found to be responsible. These fires were extraordinary, given the fact that in 1988, there was a great deal of rain and, as a result, the vegetation was highly combustible.

The Intifada militants also began to systematically burn Israeli fields, orchards and forests, and whilst no lives were lost, considerable damage was caused.[9] Interviews conducted in 1988 with local Fatah leaders from the Tulkarem region, revealed that forests were regarded as the Israel government's property and were therefore a symbol deserving of arson.[10] Setting fires was employed as a tactic, politically motivated, aimed at damaging Israel's economy and exhausting its resources. The Palestinian propaganda increased the perception that forests were used intensively by the State of Israel as a “political tool”, to mark its presence on the ground along the “Green Line”, in order to underline its existing borders after the 1948 war and the creation of the State of Israel, which the Palestinians totally rejected (until the Oslo Accords in 1993).

During the initial Intifada period, Palestinians started dozens of Israeli forest fires, some quite extensive, intentionally as acts of arson for political reasons.[11] The evidence is overwhelming that these were deliberate acts of political sabotage and Palestinian arsonists have been apprehended as a result.[12] The Israeli police have apprehended Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in the act of setting fires, while others confessed to arson after their arrest.[13]

Some fires followed specific calls by underground Palestinian terror organizations to torch forests, and cause economic damage to Israel and its symbols. Incidents of arson proliferated during the period of the first Intifada, the inciting rhetoric was often disseminated in the leaflets, praising arson and call upon Palestinians to burn the land from underneath the Jews.

Some fires followed specific calls by underground Palestinian terror groups. The instances of arson carried out by the Palestinians were in accordance with the instructions issued by the underground leadership,”The Unified National Command of the Uprising ”(Al- Qiyada Al- Wataniyya Al- Muwahada lil-Intifada-Arabic)[14] which published leaflets providing information and instructions to the population. Typewritten leaflets were distributed across the West Bank and Gaza with instructions for action to be taken against Israel.

Leaflet No. 3 of the “Unified National Command of the Uprising” dated to 31 January 1988,” called for a fire to be set underneath the invader’s feet”[15]. Leaflet No. 7, issued on 13 February 1988, contained amongst other directions and instructions to perpetrate violent activities, a call to”..convert the uprising into a continious war of attrition against the occupation and its forces, causing heavy loss of human lives and damage to the political, economic and moral spheres”.[16] A leaflet distributed in the Ramallah region in the West Bank on 10 January 1988, on behalf of “The Women’s Association”(identified with the Fatah, The Palestinian Popular Front, The Palestinian Democratic Front and the Palestinian Communist Party) called to “praise the torching hands”.[17]

Leaflet No. 18, issued on 8 June 1988 by the Palestinian uprising's underground leadership, called for the destruction and burning of the enemy's properties, industry and agriculture. The leaflet presented plans of action, including…"on the 22.6.88 – a general strike - return to the land, sow and improve it - burn the enemy’s (Israel) property, industrial and agricultural facilities”.[18] In 1989, the PLO's Baghdad radio station described methods of arson through which "the orchards and fields of the Zionist enemy can be set ablaze." [19]

During the initial period of the first Palestinian Intifada, Israeli law enforcement and the judiciary system were engaged with countering the arson phenomena. An example demonstrating the Israeli punitive severity in its approach to Palestinian arson of forests is demonstrated in the Israeli Supreme Court verdict in the trial of Muhammad Bin Ali Jaradat (case number 1926/90,8 July 1990).[20] Between October 1988 and July 1989, Jaradat was involved in committing arson, as his Intifada activities. He was found guilty of arson, setting fire to Israeli agricultural property, fields, forests and crops. Jaradat was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment of which a year and a half were actual imprisonment, two and a half years conditional imprisonment and a monetary fine. In its verdict, the Supreme Court stated, "arson has become in recent years a widespread dangerous phenomenon".[21]

The Palestinian Hamas organization was also active (and still is) in projecting the economic Jihad ideology not only on the local arena of confrontation with Israel, but also on the global scale and against the USA. One of the movement's senior leaders, Dr. Abd al Aziz Rantisi, published a written statement on Hamas's official web site calling on Muslims all over the world to wage an economic Jihad against the United States. "Muslims must recruit their financial resources and capabilities to strike and weaken the U.S economy. American-made products must be boycotted, he said, and urged Muslims to offer any kind of possible financial aid and support to the Mujaheedin (Muslim warriors) fighting for the sake of Allah".[22]
These incidents of setting fires deliberately were reported almost as afterthoughts in Israeli press in the 1920s and 1930s. Here's an example from 1936:

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