Investigators believe that the huge wildfires that broke out in the mountains near Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon were deliberately set by Arabs.
The fires began near the security barrier in Judea and Samaria, the same area where several fires were started by Arabs throwing Molotov cocktails over the barrier during Operation Guardian of the Walls, Kan News reported.
There were at least two starting points to the fires, which spread to ten other areas within an hour. Fire and Rescue Services struggled for hours to contain the fire, with over 70 firefighting crews, ten aircraft and two helicopters fighting the flames.
Fire and Rescue Commissioner Dedi Simchi told media outlets on Wednesday evening that there was evidence that the fires were manmade but investigators are also examining the possibility that they resulted from negligence. However, according to Channel 12 News, police said that two teens were seen fleeing from one fire site. Investigators are examing footage from security cameras in the area.
Over 650 acres of land were burned, including the Wind Mountain national park, administered by the Jewish National Fund. “One of the oldest forests in Israel that was planted almost 100 years ago by the pioneers of Neve Ilan and Ma’aleh Hahamisha, and most of it burned away.” the organization stated.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)