Abb Takk News

Netanyahu trying to benefit from Haifa fires: Member Israeli parliament

Occupied Alquds: A Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament ,that is called Knesset, has accused Israeli Prime Minister,  Benjamin Netanyahu of seeking to get “political gains out of an unfortunate state of events”.

The accusation came in response to a number of statements by the Israeli premier and members of his coalition blaming Israel’s Arab minority for the fires that have swept across the country since Tuesday.

“The Israeli ministers not only blamed Palestinians for igniting the fires, but Mr Netanyahu, the prime minister, and Aryeh Deri, the internal affairs minister, suggested revoking the citizenship of anyone who lit fires,” said Jamal Zahalka, a Knesset member of the Joint List, a coalition of Arab Palestinian political parties and leader of the Balad faction.

“They were targeting Palestinians of course. They didn’t suggest that for those who burned the Dawabsheh family one year ago.”

Netanyahu indicated on Thursday that he would work to strip residency from anyone found guilty of “terrorism”, saying that some of the fires were the handiwork of “elements with great hostility towards Israel”.

“He  is trying to get cheap popularity on the Israeli street by inciting against Palestinians and Arabs,” said Zahalka.

“Also, he wanted to change the headlines in the Israeli media. People started saying that he didn’t prepare the Israeli fire forces and prepare what was needed to fight the fires. It was his failure.”

Since Tuesday, strong winds and dry weather have fueled hundreds of fires across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

Tens of thousands of residents were allowed to return to their homes in Haifa on Friday after being evacuated on Thursday, but fires raged around Jerusalem, northern parts of the country and parts of the occupied West Bank into Friday night.

Palestinian firefighters assisted Israeli crews in the efforts on the ground and the flames were pushed back by night.

Forty Palestinian firefighters travelled to Jerusalem on Thursday night after the Palestinian Authority offered to assist in efforts to contain the spread of the fires.

After the fires in Haifa were contained, Palestinian crews traveled to Jerusalem, said Nael Azzeh, spokesperson for the Palestinian Civil Defence.

Azzeh said more than 100 fires broke out across the West Bank on Friday, including 57 forest fires, and that more than 500 volunteers had taken part in operations alongside 600 regular firefighters since the crisis started.

Micky Rosenfeld, Israeli police spokesperson, told that “12 people had been arrested in connection with the fires” in recent days, without elaborating further on individual cases.

Israeli politicians blamed the fires on what they call “nationalist terrorists”.

Zahalka warned that the “dangerous” rhetoric coming from the Israeli ministers could spark attacks against the minority Palestinian community in Israel, and accused ministers of “adding fuel to the fire”.

Meanwhile, Palestinian media agency Wafa reported that a fire that broke out near the Palestinian town of Huwwara in the occupied West Bank on Thursday was allegedly carried out by Israeli settlers from Yitzhar.

Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the West Bank, told Al Jazeera the fire had destroyed olive trees in Huwarra but he could not confirm how it had started.