Palestinian arsonists are suspected of exploiting the hot Israeli summer weather to start forest fires as a form of terror.
Police suspect that Palestinian terrorists are taking advantage of the hot, dry summer weather to start mass fires, thereby endangering lives, causing damage and hindering day-to-day life.
The latest blaze erupted on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Sunday near the famous Biblical Zoo and one of Jerusalem’s largest malls.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld stated that the fire was deliberately set in the afternoon at multiple points in a wooded area adjacent to the Malha railway station, near Teddy Stadium and the Malha Mall.
“The fire broke out during the afternoon at a nearby forest and police and firefighters were called in, resulting in the evacuation of the railway line out of Malha due to fire and heavy smoke,” said Rosenfeld. Train travel out of the capital was stopped for several hours.
The blaze was contained and extinguished before causing damage to the railway, Rosenfeld said. There were no injuries.
“Investigators at the scene determined that the fire was started deliberately and simultaneously at a number of different points, with evidence leading to a nearby Palestinian village,” he stated. “Police are searching for suspects and no arrests have been made.”
Rosenfeld said police are investigating whether Sunday’s blaze was related to suspected arsons on Saturday and earlier on in the week in the forests of Kibbutz Ma’ale Hahamisha near Beit Shemesh in the Jerusalem region, which are believed to have been started by firebombs hurled from a nearby Palestinian village.
A forest fire erupted Saturday near Kibbutz Ma’ale Hahamisha – the third in that area over the course of a week. Police suspect that arsonists from the nearby Palestinian village of Qatanna were responsible for the series of blazes.
The fire spread quickly due the high temperatures on Saturday, and authorities feared it would reach the kibbutz. Seventeen firefighting crews took part in the operation to put out the blaze.
Investigators’ initial probe reinforced suspicions of arson resulting from firebombs or fireworks thrown by Palestinians.
“In the past week, around 300 acres of natural forest have gone up in smoke [in the Jerusalem and Mateh Yehuda regions],” said Reuven Yitzhak, commander of the Beit Shemesh fire station. “In many cases, the fires were intentionally set with firebombs or various other various means.”
By: United with Israel Staff and JNS
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