Arson Feared in Northern Israel Fires

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Firefighters battled dozens of blazes in northern Israel Wednesday night, and authorities suspect arson is behind many of them. Officials evacuated some residents of Sakhnin near Haifa and Kibbutz Eshbal, and warned people living in Rosh Pina near the Kinneret that the fire could spread their way.

"The fact that there are multiple fires and the proximity of their points of origin indicate to us that we are dealing with arson," said Hadera Fire Department Spokesman Dudu Vanunu.

Police would not speculate on suspects or motives. But the burning of Israeli forests was used as by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians as a political weapon against Israel in the first Intifada of the late 1980's. And Al Qaeda websites in 2007 called for arsonists to participate in a "Forest Jihad" against Israel and Western powers.

The fires have been aggravated by high winds and an intense heat wave in the middle of Israel's dry season. Authorities shut down two major highways In the Galilee region, and the Israeli Parks Authority is on high alert.

Sources: Ha'aretz, YnetNews, The Jerusalem Post

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