The Joint List, the Israeli parliament coalition representing Palestinian citizens of Israel, said they planned to file a lawsuit against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, in the wake of accusations that a recent wave of mass fires in Israel and the occupied West Bank were caused by Palestinians though politically motivated arson.
In statement on social media, head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh said the decision to file the lawsuit “for incitement against Arab citizens” came in response to Netanyahu’s “false incitement during the days of the fires, and for saying that the real threat to the state of Israel is not Palestinians in occupied areas, but Arabs inside Israel.”
Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post also quoted Odeh as saying that “Everyone knows that there wasn’t a wave of terrorism, there wasn’t a ‘fire intifada.’”
Joint List leader calls on Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to open an investigation into the PM on the matter. https://t.co/BMXrYC92kl
— Unofficial ✡MOSSAD✡ (@MossadNews) December 5, 2016
He reportedly also said that although the “terror” claims were disproved, still “thousands of Jews incited against Arabs and called for them to be murdered…not even one of them has been investigated.”
On Nov. 26, the Israeli prime minister accused “terrorists” of seeking to “engulf our region with hate,” while arguing that Israel sought to “encompass our region with peace. Their flames will never burn down our hope.”
“Some Palestinians lit fires and celebrated in the streets. Others are helping extinguish the flames,” he adding, warning that “The former will find no place to hide” and would be “brought to justice.”
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) December 5, 2016
Far-right Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett also blamed Palestinian “fire terrorists,” saying that “only someone who this land does not belong to would be capable of setting fire to it,” implying both that Palestinians were responsible for the fires and did not have any attachment to the land in Israel, from where some 700,000 Palestinians were displaced during the establishment of Israel in 1948.
Meanwhile, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan had called for the demolition of homes of any Palestinian found guilty of arson, and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said during a visit to the illegal Israeli settlement of Hallamish in the West Bank following a fire there, that the best answer to the destruction caused by the flames was to “expand settlements.”
Critics have claimed that Israeli politicians were quick to blame Palestinians for the fires as a political maneuver to further convince the international community of Palestinian hostility toward the Israeli state.
— Michael Shuval (@MichaelShuval) November 24, 2016
Meanwhile, the Joint List and the Fatah movement of the occupied West Bank condemned Palestinians who celebrated the fires for revenge a proposed Israeli bill to ban the Muslim call to prayer, while Palestinian civil defense crews have provided reinforcement in order to assist Israel in controlling the fires in Haifa and Jerusalem.
Last week, Haaretz reported that an Israeli police source rejected claims that the fires were set for “nationalist” or “terrorist” motives, while Ran Shelef, the Israeli Fire and Rescue Authority’s chief fire investigator told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday: “In most areas you won’t find many things that say whether it was arson.”
(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)