Security cameras caught three Arabs trying to start a fire near the city of Ariel using what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail. The three were dropped off by a car, and they then began trying to start the fire.
After starting the fire, they casually continued walking to the Arab village nearby.
Residents from Ariel got there in time to put it out using bottles of water.
The city got lucky because the Arabs didn’t pick a very flammable area and the surrounding brush and trees didn’t catch fire, even after burning for 4 minutes.
They also picked the wrong side of the road to light their fire.
The pyro-terrorists were tracked walking back to a nearby Arab village, and were caught and arrested by security personnel.
10:51 Fires spreading near Nataf / Shaar Hagai — again.
10:32 PM Evacuating homes on Mount Halutz, with one already burnt.
Mount Halutz – also known as Har Halutz, or “Halutz” the community is located in the central Galilee, in the rocky Gush Tefen region, and is part of the Misgav Regional Council district.
Israel Electric Company has just cut the power to Halutz in accordance with orders from Israeli firefighters.
8:43 PM The fire in Emmanuel (Immanuel) is now under control. The fire got as close as 100 meters to the houses, and they almost began to evacuate.
8:36 PM Prime Minister Netanyahu in a briefing on Wednesday: “Every fire caused by arson, or incitement to commit arson, is terrorism for all intents and purposes, and we will bring them to justice.”
8:24 PM Fire near Emmanuel (Immanuel) in the Shomron, started around 20 minutes ago….going straight towards homes. Road closed from Emmanuel to Yakir.
8:09 PM Fire near Binyamin road 465, east of Tzofit, towards Ateret. 4 fire teams on site. No evacuation needed yet.
8:08 PM More than a dozen firefighters and firefighting aircraft are battling a blaze that has broken out in northern Israel in the area surrounding the community of Ein Hashufat. Firefighters are also deployed along the outskirts of the town itself, preparing to block the flames from spreading into the community because the blaze is not yet under control.
Jerusalem district fire and rescue officials say the Shuafat fire is under control. No one injured.
7:53 PM Fire and rescue officials estimate that more than 5,000 hectares of forest have burned, with untold damage to homes, property and nature, plant and animal life.
7:49 PM Power cut off at least until tomorrow morning in the following Haifa neighborhoods: Ramat Hen, Ramat Sapir, Ramat Amogi, Ramat Begin, Ramat Golda, Horev, Old Romema and New Romema.
Beit Sahur Carmel to be evacuated shortly in Haifa, according to Israel Prisons Authority
Fire under control in Shuafat – 2 homes evacuated.
7:45 PM Route 375, Husan Bypass between Beitar Illit and El Khader junction – suspicious object. Traffic halted in both directions. Update: Reopened.
7:43 PM Firefighters battling a brush fire near Shuafat, near depot parking lot … firefighters trying to contain the blaze
7:41 PM Car filled with gasoline discovered in the brush next to a forest — occupants fled.
7:29 PM Overview of the past few hours:
-Israel Prison Service evacuating facilities in Carmel Region.
-Classes at Haifa University halted, cancelled Friday.
-Firefighters working to protect installations of Israel Election Corporation around Jerusalem.
-Traffic halted on Highway 443 at Shilat Junction due to flames.
-Brush fire outbreak in parking lot of a Modi’in train station. Both stops in Modi’in shut down as a precaution.
-Two helicopters and six firefighters scrambled to Maccabi’im checkpoint as blaze spreads toward shopping center.
-Fires in Kibbutz Harel near Beit Shemesh, Oranit, Yitzhar, Rishonim Interchange, Savion Junction, Umm al-Fahm
-Fire in Hadera at a power station when dry brush “ignited” … fire approximately 300 meters from Yitzhar, with residents helping firefighters contain the blaze.
-Fire in areas near Yuvalim and Misgav in northern Israel.
-Four firefighting aircraft from Cyprus and Greece.
-Aircraft arrived with 49 crew members, included one Air Tractor from Cyprus and two Bombardiers and one Hercules from Greece.
7:15 PM Fires restarting at Shaar Hagai
6:52 PM Fire in woods near Ein Hod
6::49 PM Firefighter evacuated from Neve Ilan, Lightly injured.
6:49 PM Keren Kayemet looking for volunteers with 4x4s to help look for fires. Call Meir Tzafriri 053-850-0936 if you can volunteer.
6:47 PM View from a helicopter above the Neve Ilan area
6:38 PM Fire near Beit Safafa (Jerusalem)
6:04 PM Pre-arson setup found in Derech Karmit in Jerusalem.
5:57 Fire in woods near Nirit, houses on fire. Evacuations have begun.
5:52 PM Prison 6 being evacuated
5:44 PM Fire in forest west of Adura
5:43 Communities in the south opening up their homes to evacuees from Haifa.
5:35 PM: Fire in Ein Shofet forest
5:30 PM Fire outside town of Yitzhar
5:25 Damon prison to be evacuated.
5:19 PM Fire in Hadera – Givat Olga – not a large fire, no one in danger.
5:21 PM IDF cancels leave. Soldiers to stay on base in ready to fight terror fires.
5:07 PM Fire in park near Nazareth Ilit.
5:00 PM MK Oren Hazan has called for life imprisonment for pyroterrorists.
4:55 PM: Firestarter kit found – Students at Hesder Yeshiva Ohr HaYeshu’a in the Neve Sha’anan neighborhood in Haifa caught a youth making cardboard boxes to use as kindling to start a fire at Givat HaShivshevet between the Grande Mall and the Romema neighborhood. The youth fled and the “brush fire” was extinguished.
4:50 PM: Ramat Gilad – Land mines explodes due to heat from nearby flames
4:17 PM: Route 55 closes, in the direction of Kedum from Karnei Shomron
3:41 Firefighters trying to keep Highway 1 (Jerusalem – Tel Aviv) open as fire rages near Shaar Hagai.
3:21 PM Fire near Oranit, Yishpro Center / Modiin railway line, Maaleh Livona, Maaleh Efrayim, Har Bracha, Road 55 – Near Nabi Alias.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out at a briefing Wednesday that some countries were sending aerial firefighters, but said it was clear that more were going to be needed.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, Minister of Construction Yoav Galant and Minister of Interior Affairs Aryeh Deri brief media in the port city of Haifa. Flames forced 80,000 to evacuate from the city and surrounds.
“Firefighting planes from Israel and around the world are the critical component… That’s why we built the fire air squadron and it’s doing an excellent job. Countries are joining hands… Russia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Croatia and Turkey have already answered the call.”
By Thursday morning, Israel’s Foreign Ministry had announced via Twitter and other social media venues: “The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations has sent two Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft to fight the fires in Israel.”
The ministry didn’t forget to offer the nation’s thanks to everyone who sent help in Israel’s hour of need. “Thank you #Cyprus, #Croatia, #Greece, #Italy, #Russia, #Turkey, #Romania & Bulgaria for sending help to fight the fires in Israel. True friends!” tweeted the ministry on the Twitter social networking site.
Smoke billows over an apartment house in Haifa.
Four firefighting aircraft arrived from Cyprus and Greece alone. Included were 49 crew members, one Air Tractor from Cyprus and two Bombardiers and one Hercules from Greece, all ready for immediate battle and highly valued for their carrying capacity. Additional aircraft arrived from Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Italy and Croatia.
The entire State of Israel had only 2,500 fire personnel at last count in 2013, including 1,800 firefighters. According to Israel Fire and Rescue Authority, only some seven percent of Israel’s total area is comprised of forest land, about 400,560 acres (1,621,000 dunams.) Each year, an average of 1,000 fires blaze in Jewish National Fund (JNF) forests in the country, affecting some 37,000 dunams (about 9,000 acres) of land.
Fire and Rescue Commissioner Shahar Ayalon, appointed under the Ministry of Public Security, is working together with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and other top security officials to bring the current crisis to an end.
“Every fire caused by arson, or incitement to commit arson, is terrorism for all intents and purposes,” Netanyahu underlined at the briefing, “and we will bring them to justice.”
Update for our readers in Azerbaijan, on Friday (Nov. 25) Azerbaijan sent a fire-fighting plane.
A number of arrests have been made by security personnel as Israeli firefighters continued on Thursday to battle blazes raging across the center and north of the country, with communities in the south opening their doors to those who were forced to flee the flames.
“It’s likely that there is a nationalist motive in some of the arson cases,” Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh told reporters at a briefing in the northern city of Haifa on Thursday.
“We have a special integrated investigation team that is monitoring everything that is happening across the country,” he said. “I don’t want to get into questions regarding where [we suspect] arson and where we do not. If this is… arson, it could be nationalistically motivated. It’s certainly not just [simple] pyromania,” he emphasized. “And there have been arrests. But Alsheikh declined to share further details.
“There are some cases of arson, and lots of cases that are not arson,” he allowed, but revealed little else.
Four Arabs from the Palestinian Authority have been arrested so far on suspicion of having deliberately set the fires that continue to blaze across the Jerusalem Corridor.
Officials from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) said in a statement they are investigating the possibility that some of the fires are actually terrorist attacks.
Earlier in the day, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement that up to half of the fires raging across the nation were, in fact, caused by arson. High winds and dry weather, he said, meant that a spark as small as a cigarette butt could ignite a blazing forest fire.
In Haifa, a state of emergency was declared. Some 60,000 people were evacuated from their homes, at least 100 were sent to city hospitals suffering from smoke inhalation. More than a dozen neighborhoods were evacuated, local trains stopped running and the local airport was shut down.
Fires near the Paz Bridge, Haifa Bay and the city stadium were reported, with high winds and dry conditions helping the flames to spread.
Southern Israeli communities have again swung into action — as they did during prior wars — and are asking families on a pre-arranged list to take in those who were forced to flee their homes.
In the northern Negev city of Arad, the S. family told JewishPress.com, “We’ve really got no room, since we moved into a smaller house since that last time, but we might take in a couple. We’ll probably put the kids in the living room; they’re still pretty small.”
Hesder yeshiva students from the Ohr Yeshu’a Yeshiva in the Neve Sha’anan neighborhood caught an Arab teen red-handed as he made kindling from cardboard boxes to start another fire, Rotter.net reported. The teen managed to escape, but the students were at least able to put out the fire.
Four road workers were arrested Wednesday in the mixed-population community of Nataf, near Jerusalem, for not properly extinguishing a fire they started in order to cook a meal. They were freed Thursday.
by Andrew Friedman Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Nava Boker (Likud), whose husband Lior Boker died in the Carmel forest fire of December, 2010, criticized the Finance Ministry on Wednesday saying proper buffer lines between natural brush and populated areas could have prevented both bodily injuries and property damage in the current round of fires.
“The Finance Ministry has been withholding monies that were earmarked for creating a buffer zones between forests and towns. These could have prevented these fires from harming people,” said Boker, who also serves as chair of the Knesset Subcommittee for Fire and Rescue Services.
Boker also pointed out the date of the current crisis, just a week before the sixth anniversary of the Carmel Forest fire.
Forty-four people died in that blaze, 74 were wounded and dozens of structures were damaged.
“It is frightening that the failures of that incident were not studied and that no conclusions were drawn. Did our loved ones die in vain?” Boker asked.
Boker said she would call for an emergency session of the subcommittee she heads in order to get answers from officials charged with drawing conclusions (from the current fires). She also said she would demand the Finance Ministry release funds that were collected from the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for the purpose (of establishing buffer zones).
“We, the bereaved families from the Carmel fire, demand an end to these types of failures. [We must] protect, once and for all, the lives of the citizens of the State of Israel,” said Boker.
In addition to the existing fires, a new blaze broke out Wednesday morning in the Jerusalem corridor, near the town of Nataf. Residents of the town were evacuated.
Health officials in fire-afflicted areas around the country issued health warnings Wednesday as brush fires continued to burn.
In Zichron Ya’akov, local officials told residents to stay indoors with the windows and vents closed as far as possible.
In the Binyamin region, authorities noted a spike in breathable [smoke] particles in and around the community of Dolev and recommended that elderly people and individuals with respiratory conditions leave the area.
by Andrew Friedman Jerusalem Police said Wednesday they arrested four employees of a contractor working on a road near the Nataf community.
The men are suspected of igniting a bonfire that got out of control and ignited the blaze that currently threatens the community. It is not clear whether the original fire was an intentional act of arson or a careless mistake.
The arrests followed the declaration Tuesday of a fire ban covering nearly the whole country, signed late Tuesday by acting Fire Commissioner Shimon Ben Ner. Violating the ban, which includes bonfires and fires set in open fields, carries a six-month jail sentence or a NIS 74,300 fine.
Dr. Shay Levy, an Ecology, Natural Resources & Environmental Management expert at the University of Haifa and manager of the university’s Institute of Evolution, reiterated the likelihood that the fire was caused by human actions. Levy said the fire ban is consistent with measures taken in other countries with high fire risk.
“In some American states, you can get a $1,000 fine just for striking a match outside on a fire ban day,”’ Levy said.
“The problem is that the regulations are hard to enforce, mainly because the nature of bonfires and picnic barbecues is that they are held away from city streets and urban areas.
“In order to catch offenders before a large fire begins, police would have to put these areas on their patrol beats — something that isn’t necessarily so easy, given their usual duties, or something they are really interested to do,” Levy said.
According to the preliminary findings of the Fire and Rescue Jerusalem Investigating Unit, the current lead is that the fire from Nataf was initiated following a bonfire lit by workmen in the area of the Wind Mountain in Neve Ilan, which corroborates with the findings of the police.
The Acting Commissioner for Fire and Rescue had previously issued an order forbidding the lighting of fires in open areas. As a result, the suspects could be sentenced to six months in jail. The investigation was transferred to the Legal Division of the Jerusalem Fire and Rescue in cooperation with the Israel Police.