Ismail Haniyeh - AP - Sept. 28, 2010
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Photo by AP
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The de-facto Palestinian prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the massive forest fires in northern Israel served as a "strike from Allah [God]."

Commenting on the fires in Israel, which killed 41 Israelis and burnt more than 50 square kilometers of forest, Hamas' Haniyeh told reporters that "those fires are divine strikes for what they [Israel] did."

The Hamas strongman made the statements as he joined emergency prayers in Gaza City to ask for rain. He expressed hope rain would fall in the Palestinian territories, which like Israel, have been struck by an unprecedented dry season.

Over 17,000 residents, including 600 prison inmates, were evacuated as the blaze raged out of control since Thursday, devastating hundreds of acres of pine forest before sweeping down the slopes of the Carmel plateau near Haifa, Israel's third largest city.