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Fires continue to blaze in Israel as reports of arson circulate

    Twitter / @luis_chamizas
    Twitter / @luis_chamizas

    Israel is experiencing a fourth day of wildfires, with tens of thousands of civilians forced to evacuate their homes amidst a growing number of reports of arson.

    On Thursday evening, Gilad Erdan, the country’s minister of public security, announced that the overall situation was “under control”.

    However, new outbreaks were reported on Friday, with reports of blazes in the Jerusalem Hills, the Galilee region and Kiryat Gat, between Tel Aviv and Be’ersheva.

    Over 75,000 people in the Haifa area have fled ahead of the advancing flames, with Israel’s third largest city the most severely affected by the fire.

    Although the fires have been exacerbated by the hot weather and lack of rain in Israel over the past few months, Israeli police announced that a number of the blazes were started deliberately, with Mr Erdan referring to incidents of “arson terrorism.”

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told journalists in Haifa: “Every fire that was caused by arson, or incitement to arson, is terrorism by all accounts. And we will treat it as such.

    "Whoever tries to burn parts of Israel will be punished for it severely."

    Naftali Bennett, leader of Israel’s Jewish Home party, tweeted on Wednesday night: “Only someone who this land does not belong to would be capable of setting fire to it,” suggesting the fires had been deliberately started by non-Jews.

    However, Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint List faction in the Knesset, called any people responsible for arson “the enemies of us all.”

    “Whoever loves our homeland has to focus right now on putting out the fires and helping the injured and not on fanning hate,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Airbnb announced yesterday that they would be "waiving all service fees and enabling hosts to list for free", in order to help the tens of thousands of evacuees who need accommodation.

    "If you choose to open your doors on a no-cost basis, you'll still be protected under Airbnb's insurance policies, security measures and host guarantees," the site said.

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