Israeli public security minister says nearly half of fires were arson


Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan (center) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others during a Nov. 24 briefing on the wildfires in Haifa. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.

( Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said between 40 and 50 percent of the fires that broke out across Israel last week were the result of arson.

Erdan made the statement during an address to the Israeli Knesset Wednesday, citing “the estimates of professionals.”

“These estimates are based upon facts,” Erdan said, according to a Knesset transcript. “When you see two Molotov cocktails with flammable materials, and you see that the fire started from there, you understand that this is arson, and there were a number of cases like this.” 

He also disputed the claims of Israel’s Fire Services that said there were 1,773 brush fires throughout the country last week. Erdan said that “20 people called in about the same event, and this was counted,” and that other unrelated fires like car fires were tallied. Instead, Erdan said that his calculations were based on 39 significant fires and “findings on the ground.” 

The public security minister’s claim came despite a statement by Israeli police Tuesday that it was too early to determine how many of the fires were arson. 

“Yes, there were incidents of arson, but nationalistic motives are far from being definitively concluded,” Israeli police officials told Israel’s Channel 10.

Posted on December 1, 2016 .