Israeli rabbi sanctions 'shooting Palestinians' over wildfires

Israeli rabbi sanctions 'shooting Palestinians' over wildfires
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu on Friday posted a ruling on Facebook that permits the shooting of a Palestinian approaching a forest as Israeli authorities battled blazes for the fourth day.
2 min read
25 November, 2016

Israel - Bush fires continue

A chief Israeli rabbi issued on Friday a ruling permitting the shooting of Palestinians suspected of starting a fire, even if it leads practising Jews to violate the Shabbat - a holy day intended for resting.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu posted the ruling on Facebook after a follower asked him what to do if he sees a Palestinian approaching a forest.

The controversial Rabbi urged followers not to rely on "miracles", calling for immediate action to shoot any Palestinians approaching a forest. 

"Surely it is permitted and commanded to desecrate Shabbat in order to stop the fire and the arsonists, and if need be – shoot them as well," Eliyahu said.

"If anyone had shot the arsonists in Beit Meir or in Haifa, we would've been spared this disaster. It's a miracle that people weren't burned alive, but we must not rely solely on miracles," he said, in reference to allegations the fires raging across Israel were started by Palestinians.

Firefighters on Friday continued to battle more than a dozen fires across Israel for a fourth day in a row.

Police forces were heavily deployed in the Haifa area for fear that the fire could be reignited by the rare dry and windy weather.

Although no serious injuries were caused, several dozen people were hospitalised for smoke inhalation.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a small village in the forests near Jerusalem was evacuated overnight as several homes there caught fire.

The fires began three days ago at the Neve Shalom community near Jerusalem where both Palestinians and Israelis live. 

Later, blazes erupted in the northern Israeli area of Zichron Yaakov, south of Haifa, and elsewhere near Jerusalem before the largest ones spread across the city.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Thursday if proof was discovered that any of the fires across Israel were deliberately sparked they would be treated as acts of "terror".

Tweleve people were arrested on suspicion of arson, according to Israeli police.

The Palestinian Authority sent firefighting teams to help combat the flames.

Several countries, including Russia, France, Cyprus, Turkey, Croatia, Greece and Italy were also sending assistance to battle this week's blazes.