Israel on fire: Russia, Greece and Turkey rush firefighting planes to help, as some Arabs celebrate

November 24, 2016


[Note by Tom Gross]

While the remarks by Sheikh Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, retracting his longstanding fatwa supporting Palestinian suicide bombings, are encouraging (please see the other dispatch today for details), less encouraging is the fact that Arab social media are full of posts celebrating the wildfires spreading across Israel today.

Many of the fires have reportedly been started deliberately by nationalistic Arabs. Tens of thousands of Israelis have been evacuated from homes and offices in Haifa and other cities as fires spread out of control. Some train services have been suspended and Israel has announced it will evacuate prisons in some areas.



Dubai’s security chief, Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, tweeted “Israel banned the muezzin and caught on fire, Blessed be Allah,” while Kuwaiti imam Mishary Rashid Alafasy wished “Best of luck to the fires :)”.

“They tried to ban the muezzin’s call, and Allah rained fire on them,” Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq tweeted. (For the record, Israel has not banned the Muslim call to prayer, despite media misreporting.)

Other Arab social media users this morning shared Facebook posts hoping that the fires would reach strategic facilities in Israel, including the Haifa Chemicals plant and gas storage facilities. Another wrote: “I want to inhale the smell of barbecue from the Jews.”



Firefighting planes sent by the Greek and Cypriot governments landed in Israel this morning to help Israeli planes that can’t cope with the overload. Turkey and Russia have announced they would also send aircraft to aid Israel later today. Israel has previously helped all four countries when they experienced natural or humanitarian disasters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin who has agreed to Netanyahu’s request to send two giant Beriev be-200 firefighting aircraft.

Netanyahu also spoke with the Croatian Prime Minister who has also promised to send planes.


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All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.