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December 1, 2016 9:34 am

Israel Public Security Minister Says Nearly Half of Last Week’s Wildfires Were Arson

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

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

JNS.org – Israel’s public security minister said Wednesday that between 40 and 50 percent of the fires that broke out across the country last week were the result of arson.

Gilad Erdan made the statement during an address to the Knesset, saying, “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 cited “estimates of professionals” to back his claims.

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Erdan also disputed the Israel Fire Services report that there were a total of 1,773 brush fires, and said his calculations show only 39 significant incidents. He said the Fire Services’ number was reached by counting every phone call of an event, even though multiple people would report the same episode, as well as including car fires and other unrelated incidents in the tally.

The public security minister’s claims come days after an Israel Police statement that they could not yet make conclusive determinations.

“It’s still too early to rule nationalistic motives,” Israel police officials told Israel’s Channel 10. “Yes, there were incidents of arson, but nationalistic motives are far from being definitively concluded.”

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