Ran Shelef is the head of the Arson and Explosion forensics crime unit of the Israel Police.
In an interview with Mida magazine (Hebrew), Shelef says that of the large wildfires that swept through Israel last November, 90% were terror acts.
He decided to go public because many news articles and politicians were saying that calling the fires arson was "incitement" against Arabs.
"Yes, this was a terrorist arson", he says. "There is not any dilemma and there's no doubt. All the towns that were burned were Jewish, all those arrested or had charges against were Arab, and of a thorough survey we have conducted [looking for similar events] anywhere else in the Middle East, including among the Palestinians, none have experienced a wave of fires of the magnitude we have experienced."
"Weather does not recognize borders," Shelef said. "Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and the rest of the neighboring countries have seen nothing compared to what we went through. We checked [the PA] as well. During that period they continued to start trash fires as they always do, but it was supervised in designated places, not a huge fire like ours."
Shelef went on: "Before I determine if an event is arson or not, I sample the area with dozens of different points so there would be no doubt. In Nirit for example, we found the focus of the fires came from two tires 300 meters from each other. In Zichron Yaakov we have detected a large amount of gasoline. In Neve Tzof-Hallamish the arsonists lit toilet paper to light the fire. In Nataf, the second fire (which burned down a restaurant) was caused by Molotov cocktails thrown from a nearby village. Lucky that it stopped at the restaurant; if the wind was going in a different direction - there goes the town. I can continue to elaborate about every occasion and event. I'm in this business for thirty years, for the police and fire department. I know my job. "
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