How Can You Love A Land, and Watch It Burn?

Since Tuesday, Israel has been battling a series of fires across the country. Israel has experienced two months of drought, which is believed to have started the fire, and strong winds have played a role in fueling the flames. Over 60 000 people have been evacuated from Haifa alone. But, on Thursday morning, Israeli Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan announced that 50% of the fires were caused by arson attacks, not by natural causes. While reports have been careful when linking the fires to arson attacks, an increasing number of outlets have reported that suspects have been taken into custody and that many of the fires may have been politically motivated cases of arson. And while it is not yet confirmed that the fires are acts of arson, the fires have been cause for cheer in the Arab world, with the hashtag ‘israel is burning’ being used in over 128 000 tweets on Thursday alone. If these fires are indeed politically motivated arson attacks, then I can see no other way of classifying them, other than acts of terror. Arson is part of a long-list of acts that can be categorised broadly as ecological terrorism. Israel and the West Bank in particular, is no stranger to agricultural violence, including physical restriction of workers from tending land, destruction of land and crops and arson attacks. The impacts of ecological terror are severe.

Impacts of ecological terrorism:

·      Physical Harm:

The most obvious impact of agricultural violence is the physical harm caused to humans, pets, livestock, nature and infrastructure. In the past two days alone, thirty people across Israel have been injured due to the fires and there has been extensive damage to houses, crops and forests.

·      Economic Harm:

Aside from the physical harm caused by ecological terrorism, there are serious economic implications. The destruction of properties that require rebuilding, the loss of personal items, the loss of crops and agriculture all result in significant economic losses.

·      Environmental Harm:

The environmental impacts that fires bare are no less severe than the economic and physical ones. Aside from ruining trees, which serve as a key source of oxygen to the environment, fires also release carbon dioxide which is a harmful greenhouse gas ruining the earth’s ozone layer.

While it is indisputable that there are serious implications of agricultural terrorism, I am still unable to find the benefits of these attacks. I can think of few attacks that are as unpredictable as ecological ones. Setting fires in a particular place in order to exact a political price, runs the risk of spreading and impacting so many others. If, in this case, the arson attacks across Israel are intended to cause damage to Israeli Jews, the same risk is applied to Muslims, Christians and everyone else. And aside from the physical damage, the environmental impact that the fire possesses is not limited to a particular people, it impacts everybody indiscriminately. Furthermore, if these fires are intentioned to advance the Palestinian claim to the land of Israel than I am truly dumbstruck, how can someone claim to love a land, and yet rejoice that it is burning?