Photo Daily Mail
- Netanyahu calls arsonists 'terrorists'
- Tens of thousands of people evacuated from their burning homes.
- On social media, some Arabs and Palestinians celebrated the fires and the hashtag #Israelisburning was trending on Twitter.
- "We're in a state of war!" Netanyahu.
- Nearly 100,000 residents have been evacuated from Haifa.
Residents of a total of 11 neighborhoods in the city were told to leave their homes, as fires in at least five locations consumed homes and business.
"The fire is not under control; residents should quickly evacuate," the Haifa fire chief said, according to Walla News, as eyewitnesses described firefighters having little success in checking the onslaught of the flames.
Firefighting planes from several countries were being brought in and the army's Home Front Command called in soldiers and rescuers to aid with the effort.
In the city's Romema neighborhood, a large apartment tower was seen going up in flames.
Houses and a kindergarten in Haifa's Ramot Sapir neighborhood were evacuated, police said, as the city's entire fire service tried to control a blaze threatening to spread from the surrounding forests into the suburb.
Israeli TV broadcast pictures of paramedics frantically moving elderly people out of a nursing home in the Romema neighborhood of Haifa as black smoke billowed overhead.
Firefighters also worked to try and keep flames from nearing a gas station close to the city's Paz bridge.
Route 22 running through the area was closed.
The Magen David Adom rescue service said 36 people had been treated for injuries; 35 were lightly hurt and one hospitalized in moderate conditions.
"Every fire that was caused by arson, or incitement to arson, is terrorism by all accounts.
And we will treat it as such," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters gathered in Haifa. "Whoever tries to burn parts of Israel will be punished for it severely."
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan referred to "arson terrorism" and said there had been a small number of arrests, providing no other details.
On social media, some Arabs and Palestinians celebrated the fires and the hashtag #Israelisburning was trending on Twitter.
"We're in a state of war," Haifa fire service spokesman Uri Chibutro told Channel 2 news.
Major traffic jams were reported as residents in affected neighborhoods attempted to move to safer ground.
An Israel fire service spokesman told The Times of Israel arson was suspected in Haifa based on circumstantial evidence, but nothing had been confirmed.
Firefighters have been struggling since Tuesday to keep pace with a spate of brush fires that have popped up around the country, several of which have damaged homes and put people in the hospital for smoke inhalation.